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Honolulu Affordable Housing Pilot Program Signed Into Law

Casey Harlow

A measure to promote the building of affordable rental units in Honolulu is now a law.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 7 Tuesday after it passed the City Council earlier this month.

The measure wll establish a five year pilot program providing financial incentives to private landowners to develop rental units similar to those in Maikiki and Kaimuki.

Former Council Planning Committee Chair Kymberly Pine says it was not an easy measure to negotiate because it changes how the city does things.

"This was a pathway forward to allow the private sector to provide affordable housing units without using taxpayer funds," said Pine. "The Council is ready to work in their own communities to make sure these projects are built as soon as possible."

The law will also ease certain building and zoning codes -- allowing small parcels (20,000 squre feet or less) in apartment and business mixed use zones to be developed. It will also have other incentives, such as parking for the expected walk-up buildings to extend into rear and side yards, expedited processing, and a waiver of certain Plain Review and Building Permit Fees.

Caldwell says the new law provides new tools for the city to address the housing crisis.

He hopes the program will create at least 500 affordable housnig units every year for the next five years.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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