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Hawaii Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation Addressing Housing Crisis

By Jonathan Lennartz

In a move to combat Hawaii’s escalating housing crisis, Governor Josh Green signed an emergency housing proclamation on July 17, aimed at expediting development processes and alleviating the state’s acute shortage of housing units. The proclamation builds on the Hawaii Legislature’s wide-ranging, recent efforts to address housing affordability, supply, and homelessness.

Hawaii is at the forefront of the nation’s most unaffordable housing markets, with median home prices nearly three times the national average and housing costs a primary contributor to outmigration. An annual income of $252,000 is needed to afford a new median-priced home, leaving essential workers including nurses, firefighters, and teachers caught in a frustrating bind – earning too much to qualify for government-affordable housing, yet falling short of the income threshold. The implications of the housing crisis are especially profound for Native Hawaiians, more of whom now reside in the continental U.S. than in Hawaii, and who comprise 40% of the homeless population within the state itself.

A primary focus of the emergency proclamation includes streamlining regulatory and approval processes for home construction, citing a current deficit of 6,000 new housing units per year to begin addressing the state’s current housing shortfall. Presently, construction permitting in Hawaii currently takes three times longer than the national average, adding an estimated $233,000 to $325,000 to the price of a new home.

While providing pathways towards rapid housing development, the emergency proclamation also underscores its desire for public input and participation. The Build Beyond Barriers Working Group, composed of city, county, and state agencies, will play a pivotal role in evaluating housing plans, permits, and applications. The group will also engage in consultations with stakeholders and the public to assess potential environmental and cultural impacts.

Governor Green’s vision extends over the next five years, including an overarching objective to construct 50,000 homes with a predominant emphasis on affordability. More information about Hawaii’s housing development pipeline can be found below.

Hawaii’s Housing Development Pipeline

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