Sunday, September 23, 2007

Governor Officially Launches Affordable Housing Task Force

On August 22, 2007, Governor Lingle issued Executive Order 07-02 which established the Affordable Housing Regulatory Barriers Task Force. The task force was created to recommend and review regulatory reforms at the state and county level that will help to reduce costs of affordable housing. The Honolulu Advertiser reports that the Task Force’s first meeting will be on November 7, 2007.

The Task Force may find that the recent spate of affordable housing laws launched by the counties actually hinder rather than help the housing shortage. That regulations increase housing costs is not new and is well reported. In a recent Seattle PI article, Zoning the 'enemy' of affordable homes (Sept. 19, 2007), an Atlanta based developer and chairman of Habitat for Humanity said:

[He] would like cities to lower permit fees and parking requirements, streamline permitting and make it easier to rehabilitate existing buildings. He said companies should look into helping provide housing and the federal government should create a new tax credit for worker housing. Some cities are requiring developers to make a certain percentage of homes in new projects affordable.

That's not as fair as incentives such as special financing and extra density for projects that include affordable housing, [he] said. "It's a societal problem, I would argue. It shouldn't be just the real estate community trying to address it."

Unfortunately, Hawaii counties have taken a mandatory exaction approach rather than using economic incentives. County ordinances require land and money from landowners during zoning and subdivision, with little of no incentives.

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