Affordable Housing for Hawai‘i and Native Hawaiians: Exploring Ideas and Innovations

Date
2020-08
Authors
Das, Ashok
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Abstract
This report is a research effort to support the quest for expanding the supply of affordable housing in the state of Hawai‘i, especially in ways that respond better to the unique housing needs of the Native Hawaiian community. Local concerns about affordable housing led to the framing and execution of this research, enabled by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). A sense that business-as-usual approaches to producing housing will further burden the poor and Native Hawaiians, disproportionately, initiated this project. A primary concern and conviction shared by several local stakeholders is that the contemporary affordable housing discourse in Hawai‘i and the dominant policies almost entirely reflect borrowed prevalent logics and generic practices from the continental United States. The uncritical adoption of policies from elsewhere is unsuitable for Hawai‘i’s unique context—one shaped by its now prohibitively expensive market, scarce land resources, being a global tourism hotspot, and, most importantly, Native Hawaiians’ distinct housing needs based on their socio-economic characteristics, and unique social practices and cultural values. This report posits that a radical rethinking of housing perspectives, priorities, possibilities, and policies is imperative for attaining housing equity, in general, and for Native Hawaiians, in particular. To that end, doing more of the same is unlikely to be able to resolve Hawai‘i’s housing challenges. Decades of unidirectional transfer—from the continent to the islands—of urban planning interventions, development approaches, and housing policies and practices have also created similar cultural and political outlooks in Hawai‘i. Notions of what is needed, beneficial, feasible, or prudent seem deep-seated and unshakable. This report demonstrates valuable insights and directions to be gained from knowing about experiments and lessons from across the world, from developed and developing country contexts alike. This report is a compendium of potentially applicable ideas, with reasoning to support their relevance. It is expected to assist advocates of Hawaiian peoples’ interests and local housing needs to catalyze the prevalent housing discourse—by stimulating new questions and introducing new ideas to explore hitherto unexplored policy and planning frontiers. At a minimum, as a quick and easy reference source, it should enable stakeholders to enrich and expand prevailing and emergent local conversations on affordable housing. The research for this “ideas” report utilized qualitative methods—mainly, the review of scholarly literature, other relevant sources of data and information, and semi-structured interviews with “expert informants,” whose cumulative experience constitutes rich and deep knowledge of Hawai‘i’s housing sector.
Description
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Housing, Housing policy, Hawaii, Hawaiians, Planning and design innovations, Developing countries, Developed countries
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