Lawmaker’s housing complaints discordant
A state legislator is objecting to changes in two affordable housing projects.
WITH affordable housing in such short supply on Oahu, objections raised by a state lawmaker about two projects in her Ewa Beach district are confounding.
On one hand, her questions about changes in the make-up of the projects to include market-rate units might have some validity. On the other, her spurious complaints about affordable housing opening the area to "a lot of poverty-related crime" are corrosive to the less fortunate who need a place to live.
Rep. Rida Cabanilla says that her concerns that affordable housing will attract drug users, derelict automobiles and "people fighting" merely reflect those raised by her constituents. However, she also is dissatisfied with the projects' developers selling about 25 to 30 percent of their units at higher prices, which they say is necessary to finance the affordable ones.
So while Cabanilla doesn't want people who need affordable housing in her neighborhood, she is also complaining that fewer units will be available to them.
The nonprofit Ecumenical Association for Housing Inc., which manages five other residential properties on Oahu, plans to sell 50 apartments at market rates to pay for 192 affordable units. It initially hoped all would be affordable, even though city and federal rules require only 51 percent at that price, but increased construction costs and little available government aid forced the change.
The other project by St. Francis Residential Care Community will sell about a third of its 325 units as leasehold properties, again to finance the affordable assisted-living units for the elderly.
Both projects will provide housing that is scarce for people who have limited income. If Cabanilla believes the changes are improper, she should investigate. However, if her complaints are just another form of NIMBY, she's off the mark.
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