East Honolulu senator wants to bring Singapore public housing model to Hawaii
Hawaii Senator Stanley Chang (Dist. 9- Hawai‘i Kai, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Niu, ‘Aina Haina, Wai‘alae-Kahala, Diamond Head) is proposing a bill to bring affordable housing to Hawaii, using Singapore's public housing model.
Senator Chang told KITV-4's Annalisa Burgos on Good Morning Hawaii on Sunday that he is hosting sessions to inform the public of his idea's potential. He proposed a similar bill during the last legislative session but it failed to gain traction.
A conference called "Kick the Tires: Adapting the Singapore Housing Model to End Hawaii's Housing Shortage" will be held 9am-5pm today, Nov. 6, at the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship Training Center at 2040 Lauwiliwili Street in Kapolei.
Among the topics covered will be infrastructure needs, water capacity, construction costs, and financing to develop the new units. Keynote speaker Professor Sock-Yong Phang of Singapore Management University will introduce the Singapore public housing model and offer her thoughts on how to implement in Hawai‘i.
In Singapore, residents are required to pay into a pension fund they can use to buy public housing and the city-state owns most of the land. So how can this model work in Hawaii? Will this require changes to land reform?
According to Senator Chang, homebuyers will pay the entire cost of developing new units. "We think we can do a median price of $300,000 for a new unit, which is affordable to a family of four making just $64,000. There will be absolutely no taxpayer cash subsidy, so we'll never need to raise taxes to pay for it," he said.
Can Hawaii residents and developers really change mindset to end our housing shortage? Yes, Senator Chang says. "Singapore has done it. Vienna has done it. In Vienna, the housing shortage was so bad that they were renting out beds in 8 hour shifts. I've introduced a bill called ALOHA Homes (Affordable, Locally Owned Homes for All) based on Singapore's public housing model, which houses 82 percent of the population and is clean, safe, well maintained, and priced at only $180,000 for a new, 3BR/2BA, 969 square foot unit."
But what about wealthy foreign investors buying our property, immigration, people moving here from the mainland, vacation rentals and Airbnb? "Every year in Hawaii, about 18,000 babies are born, and 10,000 people die. So every year, there are 8,000 new, strictly local people in Hawaii. We're lucky to get 2,000 new housing units. So it doesn't matter if they're all billionaires, the housing simply does not exist to accommodate them. To buy ALOHA Homes, you have to be a Hawaii resident, owner-occupant, and own no other real property, so you have to be a local person who actually lives there," he said.
In 2015, a study conducted by the Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism found that Hawai‘i needs 65,000 additional housing units by the year 2025.