Maui council member pushes for affordable housing

Local News

A Maui council member has a proposal to stop the talk and start building affordable rental housing. 

Council member Michael Molina today put out a “Call to Action” in the hopes that more affordable housing projects become a reality sooner rather than later.  

“Let’s get something done now. We’ve put in all the financial resources. The past budget session we expanded the amount of funding for the affordable housing fund, the rental assistance fund,” Molina said. 

Molina said the County is at a crisis point.

Acting Mayor Sandy Baz notes that the county council supported the mayor’s proposed increase towards the Affordable Housing Fund, adding their own increase as well.  This will provide over $14 million in 2020.

“What council member Molina has asked the county to do is really something we are already doing,” said Baz. 

This includes partnering with developers and finding solutions like plans to convert the old UH Maui college dorms into transitional housing. For other projects, Molina says the county has the ability to make hurdles such as land costs and permit fees less burdensome.  

“All construction projects, especially government-funded construction projects require environmental assessments and other laws and regulations and permits to be followed and those kinds of things take time and effort, and so we can’t flip a switch and have units built in a couple of months, it does take some time, but we are diligently working with them,” said Baz. 

Molina’s proposal calls on the mayor to issue a request for proposals, identify sites owned by the county that can be used, and issue grants ranging from $5 to $20 million to assist with design, infrastructure, and construction. County officials say that by 2025, there is an anticipated need of nearly 14,000 additional units in Maui County.

“So we’ve got ways to go. I’m not sure if we’ll reach that mark, but we certainly need more than what we have now,” said Molina. 

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