They are NOT Affordable !

I’d hoped I would be wrong this time when I first heard about the County’s “Workforce Housing Project”proposed for Waikoloa on the Big Island called Kamakoa at Waikoloa. On the face of it, it sounds great; affordable housing intended for resort workers and public sector employees in the Kohala Coast area and beyond.  

YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DRIVING FROM HILO, MOUNTAIN VIEW OR PAHOA ALL THE WAY TO JOBS ON KOHALA’S GOLD COAST- EVERYDAY! Oh yeah, there’s a bus you can catch – at 3:30 AM! One would wonder why these folks need a home -they’re never there! Sadly my experience observing these projects over the years is that they just cannot get enough people who can qualify for the housing.

There are 125 units to be built in the 1st phase and according to the North Hawaii News this morning, a third are rentals and the balance are for sale. But I learned from speaking on the phone with someone at Kamakoa earlier, only 170 applications have been received and today is the deadline to be considered for phase one. Of those, I can guarantee the majority will not qualify for one reason or another. You could say it’s because of the current economic meltdown and certainly that could be a factor, but previous affordable housing projects have suffered the same plight. Needless to say, future phases of the originally planned 1200 homes at Kamakoa have been put on hold.

But there’s also a big disconnect in the design & planning of these projects. First of all, they are not affordable for the people they are intended to serve! The Kamakoa single family homes start at $320,000, and you don’t own the land they’re built on. Why would anyone spend that kind of doe-ray-me for a subsidized home with restrictions and not even own the land? ANS:  they won’t!

IT’S OLD THINKING-design and build the same old style home (condo apartments and single family dwellings) on State or County acquired land, give tax or financing incentives to the builders and offer financing incentives and waive fees for buyers. To do this and keep in budget, you have to chop somewhere, cheap them out a little; smaller than normal lots, adequate, but lesser quality materials, etc.

They need to do more comprehensive design and implementation to meet the needs of a wider range of people; area employees, young families, singles, elderly and empty-nesters in a neighborhood concept with common open areas, shopping, etc., in walking distance, and build smaller units. Then there would be more demand. Restrictions are fine, but the majority need to be one and 2-bedroom cottage type homes or apartments, studios even. Pack ‘em in if you need to, but make the design nice and above all, really affordable. I’m not even saying most should be for sale. Make them very reasonable rentals, with rules and standards tenants have to abide by or they’re out. NATURALLY THIS WOULD REQUIRE GOOD MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP, WOEFULLY ABSENT IN ANYTHING GOVERNMENT RELATED THESE DAYS.  

But if all the above criteria were met, there would always be a waiting list. Tenants who were not law-abiding individuals, or did not take care of their units, who were disorderly, or otherwise bad-apples would get the boot to make room for more those deserving. And guess what? There would also be fewer cars on the road!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943

1 comment

  1. Julie Sep 19

    Can anyone remember Paniolo Estates…and then the amazingly high foreclosure rate in that area a few years later when owners couldn’t sell or refinance due to all the government restrictions. Too many reason to mention why government should stay out of housing. Would love to see the county have a successful one under its belt…but not holding my breath. Great article! julie

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