Hawai‘i’s Housing Crunch

Nov 6, 2015

Aerial photo of "Villages of Kapolei" neighborhood.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Hawaii’s housing shortage now has a number — nearly 66,000 housing units are needed over the next ten years. What happens next? We get more from Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier.

According to the state department of business, economic development and tourism – Hawaii needs a massive home building campaign just to catch up with the natural demand of a steadily growing population.  Statewide, the number is nearly 66,000.  On Oahu, almost 26,000 housing units will be needed by 2025.

PBN rounded up some of the state’s top developers, such as Stanford Carr, Christine Camp, Harry Saunders and Peter Savio and asked – What are the odds we will see these homes?  

“Not good,” they say - and the chief obstacle, in their view, is often state government itself.  Specifically, the land use commission.  The LUC has set aside just five percent of state land for urban use.  That percentage has been unchanged for the past 20 years, even as the population has grown.  As a result, the supply of housing has essentially been rationed.

Oahu’s biggest pending housing developments – Koa Ridge and Hoʻopili – will put 15,000 single family homes on the market.  But both have spent a decade or more getting approvals, despite a critical need for housing.  Even when built, they’d still leave Oahu short by 11,000 units over the next decade.  

There’s a lack of political will to move any faster, developers say, exacerbated by public opposition to those developments that are proposed.

PBN asked Governor David Ige if he thought it was time for changes at the land use commission.  We also asked what he thought the chances were of Hawai‘i building the needed housing.  He declined to answer either question.