Affordable housing solutions call for creativity

I remember around 20 years ago the subject of “affordable housing” was brought up, but with few solutions of choice. I had written a letter with a solution to the problem which fell on deaf ears as well as a County Council in which today, we find, shows little recognition and little tolerance for testimony, opinion, or even solutions unless they themselves came up with it.

Maybe 20 years ago my solution was too far-fetched for a council of such non-creative ways of achieving a solution to a major issue such as the “affordable housing.”

Today, 20 some years later, we still haven’t found the solution to truly “affordable housing.” If we take notice only the county and the citizens who receive the so-called “affordable housing” are the only people who might see it as truly affordable.

Actually, the cost of the union labor and materials are the same for everyone who develops the housing. It cost the same for the county’s low income “affordable housing” projects. The only difference is the county figures on a what is affordable scale and the rests of the costs are subsidized by you know who.

One thing is for sure. No taxpayer should have to subsidize the county’s “affordable housing” issues, period. It’s enough that we can afford what we have without the added burden.

“Affordable housing” should not be a burden of debt to anyone. In all of the approximate land area of 525 square miles, most of the island is either state or county owned. It belongs to the people. In a joint effort between the state, county, individuals and families, and local island business, we can create a solution to the “affordable housing” issue.

Through the state and county we find suitable areas that can be used for housing development. We create lots and infrastructure as we would for any county housing development. State or county then issues 99-year leases to individuals or families who qualify for the lots. Next the families or individuals purchase a new factory-built home here on a trailer which is transported to the lots and set up on premade foundation and crawl space.

Here is a sample of the solution and its costs: 1. State or county lease each lot: $500 per month. 2. Homeowners purchase new three-bedroom, two-bath factory-built home, includes transportation, foundation and setup fees: $90,000. Financed for 15 years at current interest rates equals $621.52 monthly payments. The total “affordable housing” cost for a family of four is $1,121.52 per month for 15 years. Utilities and insurance not included. No property tax (lease).

The advantages of the solution: 1. Instead of the county or state putting the costs of “affordable housing” on the taxpayers, the leases made to the homeowners would bring consistent revenue to pay back the taxpayer funds that created the “affordable housing” subdivisions.

After the homeowner pays off their home loan the lease automatically goes to $1,000 per month for the remainder of the 99-year lease, which then makes it even more affordable for the homeowner and increases the revenue for the state or county.

Let’s use the resources and vacant public land we all own and creatively solve our “affordable housing” crisis, instead of the never-ending millions spent subsidizing. As long as the current method of county “affordable housing” is used, we will continue to throw away millions that will never be paid back. That money could be put back in the taxpayers’ pockets and help generate a better economy for our residents.

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Steve Martin is a resident of Kapaa.

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