HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tens of thousands of homes, maybe more.

That’s what some experts are targeting to help ease Hawaii’s housing crisis. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s office said they’re working on it, but it will also need the support of folks in wealthy communities.

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Currently, the city has plans for 200 project-based vouchers over the next five years.

Up to 40 of those could go to Ewa and Central Oahu each. Up to 20 could go to East Honolulu and Kailua through Kaneohe each, and up to 20 in Waianae.

“If they’re spending more than 30% of their gross wages, on housing, eventually their money runs out. So that’s a problem, and that’s why we need to produce it,” Honolulu Department of Community Services Director Anton Krucky said.

Many housing officials believe affordable housing helps everyone, from curbing homelessness and producing stable surroundings for Keiki, to allowing locals to stay in Hawaii. They argue that it also needs to be evenly distributed.

“It’s really beneficial for children to be in economically diverse communities,” University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization and UH Manoa affordable housing professor Philip Garboden said. “If you have communities of all wealthy people and low-income people that is not good for society, that’s not good for upward mobility.”

NIMBY — or not in my back yard, is a phrase that isn’t unique to Hawaii but it has sunk its fair share of affordable housing developments on the islands and experts are worried it could be a massive barrier to solving our affordable housing crisis. It happened in Kailua in 2020, in Maui last week, and the proposed Manoa Banyan Court project has heavy community pushback.

“NIMBYism is a very significant problem. If everybody says okay, I recognize we need affordable housing, but just not here. Well, then where?” Krucky said.

The problem is getting projects past council votes despite community pushback, which is a de-facto regulation in a market that is widely considered to be over-regulated.

“It’s specifically sort of local veto power of affluent communities has a real deadly effect, not just how much subsidized housing gets built, but where the subsidized housing that gets built can actually be built,” Garboden said.

There are often valid arguments against projects, but it’s often putting perfect as the enemy of good.

“Any sort of major traffic implications or environmental implications are implementable are sort of resolvable by the policies and procedures we have in place to make sure we have enough roads and enough stormwater and what have you to build a new development,” Garboden said. “There’s not a huge environmental difference between a four-story housing for elderly folks and four single-family homes.”

Next week, Mayor Blangiardi plans to award nearly $40 million toward affordable housing projects that Krucky said will create a sizeable number of units dedicated to being 60 years at 60% of area median income.

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“That’s just the beginning of the process. Right? We’re still gonna have to go through approvals and council we’re gonna have to get community buy-in these developers have to finish up their, their projects to launch them. So there’s a lot of work ahead of us,” Krucky said.