Housing authority looks at expanding low-income units

(Via KITV)

Affordable and low-income housing is hard to come by in Hawaii.  So much so that the Hawaii Public Housing Authority director calls it a crisis.

Click here to watch Cam Tran’s report.

On Tuesday, the HPHA announced a new plan that will bring upwards of a thousand new homes.

In the heart of Kalihi-Palama sits the HPHA offices and maintenance building.

“We feel that using six acres for our offices is a waste,” said HPHA Exec. Director Hakim Ouansafi.

That’s why the state wants to tear down these old buildings and construct new offices along with 600 to 1,000 additional public housing units on this site.  On Tuesday, the state opened the request for submission for developers interested in taking on the task.

“We are looking at all and any creative ideas to reduce the amount of costs to build now  Right now, it is $400 a square-foot.  We know that creative ideas could coast about $167 a square-foot, which is almost half,” said Ouansafi.

Some of those ideas include container homes — using massive shipping containers and stacking them to become additional units or microunits.

If the project at the School Street housing project is successful, HPHA says it will look for other sites near rail — all to increase the low-income housing stock which is almost near capacity.

“Our wait list is growing.  Our occupancy is at 100 percent,” said Ouansafi.

The HPHA director says he’s very aggressive about the timeline on this project.   He hopes to name a developer by this spring and break ground on this project in 18 months.

The developer will fund most of the costs of the project, but some will be from the state.  HPHA says the state may have to fork over $40,000 per unit — funds which have not been secured yet.  The deadline for developers to submit their proposals is March 10.

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