Lokahi Pacific, a non-profit housing and community development organization recently completed a 16-house affordable housing project in Wailuku. When they did they learned just how much things have changed in our low-income community. Prior to this project, they had previously completed three others and the one thing that was different was how the Maui family unit has changed from just five short years ago.
“The household units we worked with before consisted of one-to-two adults with two-to-four children, which fitted the standard three-bedroom houses very well. Today, however, we are not looking at that household as the average. Most people who applied for houses in our project started out that way three years ago, but between then and when they moved in earlier this year, many of these households had grown to include, grown children w/significant others, one or more of the owner’s parents, and/or significant others with children.” Susie Thieman ~ Executive director, Lokahi Pacific.
Are we building what we need to help our residents find homes that are truly affordable? The idea that affordable housing or workforce housing is based on a HUD calculation with most housing solutions built for those with household incomes of $80,000 – $120,000 may be an old idea that has outlived its usefulness. What about building houses that fit the needs of our families at prices they can actually afford today?
Lokahi Pacific have many ideas to tackle our housing crises – everything from affordable rentals, smaller houses/duplexes that accommodate less people with an emphasis on starter homes, building houses on properties owned by a land trust (land that would never be sold, just leased to the current home owner) or keeping land stipulated as affordable in perpetuity. Perpetuity would keep the property available in the affordable housing pool for the next buyer to purchase in the affordable range.
Whatever we do, Susie Thieman, like many others realize it’s time to stop talking about the problem that is devastating our low to middle income community and create some programs that work. As one of Lokahi Pacific buyers said to his eight-year-old daughter, when he was handed his house keys, “This is for you honey.” And so it is, because unless we get serious about solving this current housing shortage and inflated prices situation, she and all those her age will disappear from Maui in ten years and never look back. Unfortunately it’s already happening!
To learn more about Lokahi Pacific’s affordable housing projects and the work they do in our community go to www.lokahipacific.org
Image Credit: Lokahai Pacific