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Millennials in Hawai'i Are Purchasing First Homes


There will be an estimated demand for 65,000 housing units by 2025 in Hawai’i.   That, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.   HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka takes a look at affordable housing through the eyes of a young couple who are taking charge of their lives.

Loren Bullard grew up in Alaska and met her fiancé, Colin Hosking, while attending college in Oregon.  Hosking moved to Hawai’i for graduate school and she joined him.  A year-and-a-half ago, the millennial couple, in their early 30s, decided to use their $1,350-a-month rent to buy their own place.

“We’ve been living in here in our current apartment for the past 6 years and we’ve paid over $76-thousand of someone else’s mortgage.”

Together, they earn 109-thousand dollars, which is close to the140 percent area median income for O’ahu.  They qualified to purchase a one bedroom affordable unit at Ke Kilohana Ward Village in Kaka’ako.   Hosking said they put a 10 percent, $32-thousand down payment and started saving as much as they can.

“I think we’re trying to save up for the closing costs because we’re not going to be financing for about a year or so because the building we’re moving into is being built right now.  And I’m paying off my credit card and I think we’re probably both putting away close to $800 a month each.”

Kaka'ako Construction

Meanwhile,  Leo Asuncion, director of the State Office of Planning, chairs an interagency Transit Oriented Development Council.   He’s charged with developing a plan to build affordable housing and state offices on 2-thousand acres of state land along the rail transit corridor.

“The governor has his plans, 10-thousand units by 2020; the legislature set a goal for affordable rental housing statewide – 22,500 by 2026 and then hovering over us is the demand of approximately 65,000 units statewide by 2025.”

Asuncion says there are 3 primary locations they are focusing on.  The West O’ahu station, the 100-acre Aloha Stadium property, and the Iwilei-Kapalama civic center and public housing complex.   He says the plan also includes how to pay for it.

“There’s not enough money to do everything.  So really the question from a planning side is do we only invest in one thing as a state or    do we try to cover everything, which just means it take longer.  The city with their plans estimated it’s about 40 to 50 years for buildup.  Maybe the buildings stay up for another 40 years, right, so you could reach a hundred years on a life-cycle basis.”

But, one hundred years is too long for the millennial couple.  Hosking and Bullard say their friends are buying but it took them a while to realize they could buy instead of rent.

(Bullard) “There’s no way in the world we can afford $3-thousand a month.  We’re broke every month.  What’s going on here and so we realized I was spending $800 a month going out to eat, going out with our friends every single month.”  (Hosking)  “Yeah, I was spending about the same amount.”  (Bullard) “So we really started focusing on trying to save more money, ‘cause you do need to have money in the bank for people to want to loan you money.”

In my next report, what the City and State are doing to build more affordable housing.   Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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