Addressing the Hawaii Housing Crisis
In 2005, One Island first approached USDA housing and County planning about supporting affordable, green living community building projects in Hawaii.
2006-2015, the organization built and developed projects with education centers in Honaunau and Kohala. During that period we hosted the Sustainable Living Design Challenge and managed the West Hawaii Sustainable Energy Project bringing over $1 million in solar energy to area homes, farms and business.
2016-2017, One Island circled back to the housing issue and began hosting community discussions about the lack of affordable housing in Hawaii. It began with addressing the urgent need for farm worker housing in order to increase the locally grown food supply and food security. More than 600 island residents attended these meetings that continued into 2018.
The planning vision grew to include affordable home ownership as well as workforce rental housing, and looked at homeless issues as well.
Planting Seeds for Change
In meetings with elected representatives and County departments, small steps forwards were made. But still, the progress moved so slow ... and the 2017 near-win in legislation met with a veto by the Governor.
In December 2017, One Island convened a meeting at the County Building in Hilo that included State Senator Russell Ruderman, State Representative Cindy Evans, County Councilmembers Jen Ruggles and Tim Richards, and the new County Planning Director Michael Yee. In that meeting we introduced our findings gathered in recent housing land trust trainings and from attending the national conference. Our suggestions were that the County not only address Tiny House options for farm workers and small farm owners, but look at the Community Land Trust model as a way to create a new affordable housing model.
In early 2018, One Island helped form the Hale O Malama Community Housing Land Trust with the goal of creating affordable rental and ownership housing to help fund and revive agricultural production in rural districts.
Then the volcano changed the landscape. Suddenly there were over a thousand newly homeless families, workers, and seniors. As the County and State worked to find solutions, a crack opened in the collective thinking. Necessity is the mother of invention, indeed.
Solutions that require rethinking land use zoning, building footprint and material rules, increasing access to community scale residential areas that remain affordable - all of these issues became front and center. And an opportunity has opened to re-think housing models island wide.
Affordable Housing News
We are pleased to report that December of 2018 saw a new Hawaii County-initiated community conversation discussing the housing crisis with a multiple of community
stakeholders. The well-attended meeting looked at real, concrete solutions already being used in other communities across the US.
The Community Land Trust model was a central component of this conversation, with the Maui program - the first in the state - providing information on this viable option for future housing solutions (and with ways to convert existing housing stock into affordable housing).
We anticipate that multiple Community Housing Land Trusts will sprout up, designed to best meet local needs. More paddlers focused on the same horizon brings the ship to shore sooner!
Green IS a Verb - Do It!