Fewer affordable rentals proposed

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Howard Hughes Corp. is asking the state if it could build fewer affordable rentals in Kakaako. The developer has asked the Hawaii Community Development Authority if they could double the amount of time they're required to keep affordable rentals available on the market to up to 30 years. In return, they're asking if they can reduce the number of affordable rentals they're required to build by as much as half. Critics say it's a bad move. "Why don't they just build two for 200 years? At what point does it stop," said Ariel Salinas, a member of Kakaako United, which challenged the development at the former Honolulu Advertiser building. "I think the message is clear that they just want to get in, build their condos and sell them right away." The move won't affect the 375 affordable units already approved for the developers Ward Avenue project. But it could mean fewer affordables at the 20 highrises Howard Hughes plans to build in the future. It also could affect construction planned by other Kakaako builders. Under HCDA rules, about 20 percent of the new homes in Kakaako have to be built as affordable homes or rentals. To qualify for an affordable home, the buyer can earn no more than 140 percent of the area's median income. For affordable rentals, tenants can earn up to 100 percent of the area's median income. "We have not changed our plans. This will in no way impact the number of reserved housing units - 375 - provided at 988 Halekauwila," said David Striph, the company's senior vice president for Hawaii. The HCDA will take up the issue at its meeting on Wednesday and one frequent critic of the agency hopes the HCDA doesn't rubber stamp the request. "This is a drastic change in policy and the direction of Kakaako," said state Rep. Scott Saiki, D-Kakaako. "The vision of Kakaako was that it would be home to people who work in Waikiki and other outlying areas."

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