The City and County of Honolulu showcased its latest affordable housing purchase today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The 8-story building, with 33 studio apartments and parking, is located at 436 Ena Road in Waikiki. The Mayor’s Office of Housing executive director, Sandy Pfund.
“The acquisition price for this project was $7.5 million. The building is pretty much ‘turn key.’ There’s some minor repairs since its an older building. But, basically, its move-in ready to allow people to being tenants here.”
The City used federal Community Development Block Grant money for the purchase. The goal will be to house those earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income or 49-thousand dollars annually for a single person, 56-thousand for a couple. Pam Witty Oakland is the director of the city’s Department of Community Services.
“Tenants will be required to have a one-year lease, like all of the other city properties. Residents will have their income certified to make sure they meet the criteria of the building. And everyone that lives here will be asked to abide by the same house rules. Units are always inspected once a year and incomes are re-certified once a year as well.”
There are six studio-sized units per floor, each with a private bathroom. Tenants will share a central kitchen space. Seven units will be reserved for Housing First voucher recipients. Bob Finley, chair of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, says it was decided a few years ago that Waikiki would not be a NIMBY or not in my back yard neighborhood.
“We decided to support affordable housing. I’m glad to see this is the result of that. And it’s hard in a district that your places like across the street go for one-million-two, to put affordable people in your neighborhood. But they’re gonna be here anyway. So, I’m very happy that to see it starting in Waikiki.”
The Department of Community Services is trying to contract a property manager for the project by June 10th. Meanwhile, Councilmember Kymberly Pine, says homeless sweeps and housing initiatives in downtown Honolulu are pushing many of the less desirable homeless to Ewa and Wai’anae.
“After a lot of the removal of numerous homeless in town, we did have a large spike of new homeless that are not from our district come in, many of them are very violent and have very concerning criminal records and so they are having a very substantial impact on my district.”
But, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, says the City will continue to enforce the homeless sweeps -- what he calls compassionate disruption -- and purchase more housing first units in neighborhoods where the homeless live.
“We also acquired property in Citron, mauka of the Ala Wai Canal. It’s gonna have 34 units. And we recently acquired property on Young Street, just down from Central Union. That’s gonna have 30 units. When you add these up that’s 97 additional units we’ve acquired in the past couple months. We wanna keep this march going. We want to house people. The Council is giving us money to do so and we wanna make sure we encumber and use that money.”
Since 2015, the City has spent 64 million dollars to purchase 477 affordable rental units on O’ahu. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.