Report on the Affordable Housing Summit, Sept. 21, 2019

Barbara Service, Chair of the Cathedral’s Outreach Committee, attended the recent Affordable Housing summit. Following is her report.

2019 Affordable Housing Summit (photo by Hawaii News Now)

On September 21, 2019, Faith Action, formerly known as FACE (Faith Action for Community  Equity) held an Affordable Housing Summit.

Rick Blangiardi, the General Manager of Hawai‘i News Now, shared his vision for more affordable housing and services to the homeless.  He partners with IHS (Institute of Human Services), the state’s preeminent shelter founded by Episcopal priest, Claude Dutiel.

Other speakers included Philip Garboden, Dean of the Department of Urban Planning at University of Hawai‘i, the Division Chief of the Department of Planning and Permitting and Councilmember Kymberly Pine.

The central problem is that Hawaii’s minimum wage ($10.10 per hour) is way out of sync with the Area Median Income of around $100,000.  The cost of living in Hawai‘i is so high that more than 1.3 million people who were born here have moved away.  In a recent survey, half of those interviewed said they had trouble making a living here, and 38% of people questioned said they’d leave if they could.

Finance panel members discussed the importance of the relationship between public funding, private funding and the community with respect to the development of affordable housing.

State Senator Stanley Chang discussed what’s happening in Singapore, where more than 90% of citizens are homeowners (compared to 57% of Hawai‘i residents).

Another panel focused on ways to get to the goal of 17,000 affordable units.  Specific attention was paid to TOD (transit-oriented development) communities built around the rail stations.

The session ended with participants feeling empowered to make a difference.