Affordable Housing Upgrades in Hawaii: What Assistance is Available?

The WAP program helps low to moderate income (LMI) residents in Hawaii reduce their energy bills by installing air conditioning systems. Development activities currently being implemented include site improvements for new affordable housing construction and financial assistance so that eligible families can purchase and rehabilitate existing housing. California recently created the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program as a successor program to MASH. More than 70 new charging systems have been installed or are being planned, including level 2 stations installed in at least two affordable housing complexes. The State of Hawaii has established the Hawaii Inter-Agency Council for Transit Oriented Development, which is responsible for developing and implementing a state strategic plan for total mobility, including mixed-use, affordable and rental housing.

The Green Bank of Connecticut has been authorized to grant low-interest loans to developers of affordable multifamily housing to improve the energy performance, economy, health and safety of their properties. This law amends the Native American Self-Determination and Housing Assistance Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 and creates a new Title VIII, entitled “Housing Assistance for Native Hawaiians.” NHHBG funds can also be used for certain types of community facilities if the facilities serve eligible affordable housing residents. Eligible applicants include affordable multifamily housing providers, community organizations or agencies, and technical service providers that work in partnership with any of these entities. In accordance with the provisions of the authorization decision, a public tender was held to appoint a program administrator at the state level and a team consisting of the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), GRID Alternatives (GRID), the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), and the California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC) was selected. Hawaii does not have any state programs to encourage the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, but it does take into account the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal tax credits for low-income housing to eligible homeowners. The use of NHHBG funds is limited to affordable housing activities that meet the requirements for low-income Hawaiian native Hawaiian citizens (who do not exceed 80% of the area's median income) and who are eligible to reside in their Hawaiian homelands.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) has identified a variety of affordable housing activities to address the fundamental housing needs of native Hawaiians across the state. Preference is given to “high-impact” properties, such as those financed by Housing and Urban Development in the United States, properties financed by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, developments insured by the Federal Housing Administration, properties in geographic areas of LMI, and development complexes oriented to public transportation.

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