Honolulu REALTORS® Advocate for Housing Affordability
Honolulu’s Oahu island location makes it one of the nation’s most desirable and most expensive places to live. Unfortunately, the community currently faces a serious lack of housing inventory and a severe shortage of affordable housing. In response, Honolulu’s REALTORS® have established themselves as leaders in finding solutions to both issues.
Oahu faces a shortage of more than 12,000 housing units, and that number is expected to grow by about 5,000 units per year as its population continues to grow. The median home price on the island is a striking $650,000, compared to around $200,000 nationally.
Working class families increasingly are being priced out of the housing market, and families that have lived in Hawaii for generations are being forced to leave. Consequently, the Honolulu Board of REALTORS® has made it a top priority to make affordable housing available to all families. Its approach to the issue combines direct advocacy and education.
Last spring, the HBR held a forum on the need for housing development and encouraged its members to serve as community advocates on the issue.
Some local groups oppose development, including planned development around the city’s new 22-mile rail system. The housing forum, which received media attention, helped to open the discussion on the need for, and benefits of, well-planned development.
In addition to education, Honolulu REALTORS® conduct direct advocacy efforts on issues tied to affordable and accessible housing. Currently, the HBR is fighting local legislation that increases the tax rate for properties valued at $1 million or more — known as Residential A properties — from $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $6 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. In many Honolulu neighborhoods, a $1 million home is a modest home built in the 1950s or 1960s. The substantial tax increase adversely impacts property owners, some of whom rely on rental income to pay for everyday living expenses; and renters, who may see rents increase by as much as $200 per month.