Honolulu condo boom aggravates affordability crisis

Part-time development consultant and indigenous Hawaiian heritage activist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu says Ward Village—a $10 billion, 4,000-residence Honolulu waterfront development—is rising amid a warren of strip malls, auto repair shops and Quonset huts that often smells of leaking sewers.

She agreed to work with Howard Hughes because of the developer’s “exemplary record” of cooperating with native descendants. “If this were virgin land elsewhere on the island, untouched and pristine, I’d probably have a different attitude toward the development,” Wong-Kalu said. “However, this is in the urban core and a place that was in sore need of revitalization.

The problem is a growing deficit of affordable housing. The median home value in Honolulu was $605,300 last year, behind only California’s San Jose and San Francisco among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, according to Zillow Group Inc.

With a population of almost 1 million, Honolulu has a deficit of 24,000 dwellings, including 18,000 units for families earning less than 80 percent of the metropolitan area’s median income, according to a September report for the city housing office. [photo credit: Cory Lum/Civil Beat]

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