Lanai residents say rental housing needed on the island

WAILUKU — A rental housing project proposed by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison’s company for the Hawaiian island of Lanai has the support of residents who say it will help ease a shortage that leads to crowded living conditions.

Ellison’s Pulama Lanai plans to develop 150 rental units, with about half of the units to be rented at affordable rates. It is being considered under Hawaii’s fast-track approval progress for affordable housing.

It has been more than three decades since a large housing project has been built on Lanai, The Maui News reported Wednesday.

Some Lanai residents told the Maui County Council’s Affordable Housing Committee about a housing shortage that forces many to leave the island.

“This leaves the working youth two options: to continue living with their family having crowded, stressful, small homes or to move elsewhere,” Kainalu Morimoto testified.

The vast majority of the people who testified live on Lanai and support the project.

But resident Pat Riley said he opposes it because some of the units should be for sale.

“I’m advocating not for myself but for that group of Lanaians that have lived and worked here for years and years and years and can never get an asset, they can never have a house. They are going to work the rest of their lives and have nothing,” Riley said.

The committee deferred action on the project to its Aug. 16 meeting. The full council has until Sept. 4 to take action or the project is automatically approved.

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