Hawaii Dwellings
City and State advance housing initiatives

Hi-Tech Refresh For City’s Permitting and Planning Department

In a July panel discussion at the General Contractors Association of Hawaii’s (GCA) annual meeting, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Dean Uchida, former director of the City & County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP), spoke of remedying its processes, which as of last count has a backlog of more than 4,000 permit applications. 

Last month on Sept. 7, Blangiardi accepted the resignations of Uchida and Chief Innovation Strategist Danette Maruyama from DPP, citing philosophical differences in reforming the department. On Monday, Sept. 12, Blangiardi appeared on the Star-Advertiser daily interview show, Spotlight Hawaii. On the topic of DPP, Blangiardi discussed that the City is searching for a high-tech solution to DPP’s problems. In fact, that morning the City published a request for seal bids (RFB) on the state’s Hawaii Awards & Notices Data System (HANDS) for a “Robotic Process Automation of ePlans for the Department of Planning and Permitting.” The closing date was 2 p.m. on Sept. 20. 

“Fixing DPP is our priority because we believe it is the key to our economic recovery,” says the mayor, who wants “to stomp out its old-guard culture of ‘no.’ Young hires don’t have that sense. They are excited to affect change.” 

Uchida added that “DPP’s archaic system, corrupt culture, 20 years of mismanagement and the undoing of ‘worst practices’ will take a lot of effort. Attitudes need to change and the system needs to be customer-service based.”

While on Spotlight, the mayor reiterated that he has the utmost respect for Uchida. With the published RFB announcement, it’s clear that DPP’s makeover looms.

Over $250 Million in Public Solicitations For DHHL Infrastructure Projects

Submitted by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands 

The Department of Hawaiian Home Land’s (DHHL) land development division is preparing to release nearly $250 million in statewide infrastructure projects for public solicitation in 2023.

The unprecedented amount is the result of record level of capital improvement funds for the Fiscal Year 2021, followed by the historic $600 million allocation from Hawaii’s recently passed Act 279. 

Projects expected for release as public solicitations next year range from infrastructure development for new homestead subdivisions throughout the state, to maintenance and sewer improvements in some of the agency’s oldest homestead communities.

On Oahu, DHHL will continue its expansion in East Kapolei with design-build solicitations for additional increments in Kauluokahai and a newly acquired parcel of land near an existing homestead community.

In Maui County, solicitations will include roadway and water system improvements near DHHL’s Leialii subdivision in Lahaina and infrastructure development in Wailuku and Kula, along with infrastructure development on Lanai and in Hoolehua, Molokai.

The department will be moving forward with solicitations for a long-awaited residential development in Hanapepe, Kauai and on Hawaii Island and will see further construction in the Villages of Lai Opua in Kealakehe, Hawaii.

Among the repair and maintenance solicitations for bids are the sewer systems in Papakolea and Waianae and water system improvements in Kau.

DHHL is the state of Hawaii’s lead agency tasked with implementing a homesteading program established under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA). 

The HHCA was signed into law by President Warren G. Harding on July 9, 1921, and amended the Organic Act of 1900, setting aside approximately 203,000 acres of the former crown and government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom for homesteading by Hawaiians of at least half native Hawaiian ancestry. As a condition of statehood, the HHCA was adopted into the Hawaii State Constitution, with responsibility for portions of fulfilling the Act given to the state of Hawaii.

At the 1978 Constitutional Convention, delegates amended Article XII Section I of the Hawaii state constitution to include a provision for sufficiently funding the program. Following a 2012 court decision, DHHL began receiving general funding from the state.

Under the administration of Gov. David Ige, the DHHL received record amounts of capital improvement program funds to develop new homestead lots and repair and maintain projects within aging homestead communities. The historic allocation of Act 279 will allow DHHL to expedite construction on several designed projects and enter design-build solicitations for projects that have completed environmental compliance and beneficiary consultation.

According to Cedric R. Duarte, DHHL’s information and community relations officer, the department continuously strives to maintain and create new partnerships to meet the needs of its beneficiaries. This translates into a broader range of job opportunities for the construction and trade industries, from large construction firms to the smaller contractors.

For more information on DHHL’s construction projects, visit dhhl.hawaii.gov/procurement. Note all DHHL procurement solicitations are posted in their official capacity on the State of Hawaii’s procurement website, hands.ehawaii.gov.

Submitted by DHHL

State Grants Historic Funding for Housing

Between 2009 and 2021, the Hawaii state government spent an average of $1.28 billion on capital improvement projects, which accounted for 16.4% of total construction value for the period. 

“Government spending on construction is a fiscal policy toll to boost the economy, especially when the economy is in recession,” says Eugene Tian, economic research administrator at the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. “For the first half of 2022, government (federal, state and county) contracts awarded reached $4.5 billion—a new historical level and a 479.2% increase from the same period in 2021. Though these government projects will take a few years to put in place, they will play important roles in the construction industry.”

 This past summer saw the passage of Hawaii legislative bills to fund: 

$600 million toward homes for Native Hawaiians, including affordable housing for qualifying applicants earning between $77,000 to $130,000 annually, and $300 million split between the dwelling unit revolving fund to build infrastructure for future housing, and to the rental housing revolving fund to develop moderate-income housing for individuals and families. Also receiving $15 million in funding is the Ohana Zone pilot program through June 30, 2026. Since 2018, the program has served more than 5,500 individuals across the state and has added 400 more beds to the shelter and housing inventories. 

2022 Hawaii Legislature Bills Passed for Housing 

• Act 236: $300 million split between the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund

• Act 237: Authority for the Department of Human Services to provide up to $500 per month to participants of the First-to-Work program

• Act 279: $600 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands 

• Act 235: $15 million for the Ohana Zone pilot program

HHFDC assists developers to reach affordable housing goals in the state

By Paula Bender

The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. (HHFDC) is the primary agency charged with overseeing affordable housing finance and development in Hawaii. According to Gordon Pang, HHFDC spokesperson, increasing and preserving the supply of affordable housing statewide occurs when developers are provided finances and development resources. HHFDC partners with developers who then hire contractors and subcontractors to do the work. 

“Affordable housing units, because they are overpriced at below-market values, are difficult to pencil out,” Pang says. “Developers need incentives to produce them. These include low-interest loans and tax credits. Finding housing for individuals is the purview of the counties and other agencies including, for the very low-income, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA).”

New tenants have moved into the 75-unit third phase of the Meheula Vista senior housing project in Mililani. When all four phases are complete, 300 senior individuals and couples will have new affordable units to call home, Pang says. 

Completed so far in 2022 are Hale Kalele, The Central at Ala Moana, and Kahului Lani. Hale Kalele on the corner of Alder and Piikoi streets, is a 201-unit mixed-use, interagency affordable rental and juvenile services and shelter facility located near the future Honolulu rail transit station in Ala Moana. Hale Kalele is the result of redeveloping underutilized state of Hawaii Judiciary property. Developers are Kobayashi Group and MacNaughton Holdings.  

The Central at Ala Moana, developed by SamKoo Pacific LLC, is a 513-unit mixed-use residential project in Ala Moana, also near the future HART station. It is a 43-story residential and commercial project with approximately 10,500 square feet of retail space. Of the 513 units, 60%, or 310 units, are affordable, and the remaining 40% at market rates—a moot point as The Central is sold out.

On Maui, the Kahului Lani Phase ll, an 83-unit senior rental project will house seniors earning 30% to 60% area median income (AMI). The developer is Catholic Charities Hawaii. 

Near-completion projects funded in part by HHFDC include the Halewai Olu project on city land in Chinatown (Michaels Development), and the Kokua Senior Living project on Alakea and South Beretania streets (Highridge Costa). “They bring much-needed senior housing into the Downtown-Chinatown area,” Pang says. 

In July, the HHFDC board approved financing for the Parkway Villages at Kapolei, more than 400 family rental units developed on city land by Kobayashi Group. In Lahaina, Gov. David Ige [in August] took part in the groundbreaking for the 200-unit Kaiaulu o Kukuia on state land, aimed at helping workforce families in the region. The project developer is Ikaika Ohana, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 affordable-housing developer, social-service coordinator and asset-management company.

Gentry Homes Plans 2023 CPR Development in Kalaeloa

By Paula Bender

Gentry Kalaeloa LLC, a subsidiary of Gentry Homes Ltd., is set to break ground in 2023 on Kaulu by Gentry, a 29.8-acre residential community in Kalaeloa consisting of 390 residential homes in West Oahu. “All 390 homes will be sold to owner-occupant households … Gentry will design and market the homes, including 87 reserved-housing units pursuant to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA),” says Rick Hobson, vice president of sales and marketing at Gentry Homes. 

The west-side development will consist of 262 flex-loft attached multi-family homes and 128 front-yard single-family detached units.

To comply with HCDA rules, sale prices for the reserved housing units will not exceed levels affordable to households earning up to 140% of the area median income (AMI). The development will be under a condominium property regime (CPR) and will be built in increments under a joint-development agreement. Also, Gentry intends to publish owner-occupant presale announcements for the first homes available in Kaulu. It is anticipated that the first phase will go on sale in fall 2023. 

Says Quentin Machida, president and CEO of Gentry Homes, “Gentry Homes has built thousands of homes for Hawaii’s first-time buyers and will continue to focus on this market segment in the future. Adding energy-saving features that save our buyers money every single month and reduce our carbon footprint is a priority; our team will continue to add value to each home that we build.”

Contractor: Gentry Buildings

Architect: Ross Yamamoto

Interior Designer: Carlyle Design

Photographer: Kyle Rothenborg

Cabinets: Bruce Matson Cos.

Appliances: Pacific Home & Appliance Distribution (GE Café)

Counter Tops: Honolulu Tile & Marble (Corian/Quartz)

Bath Fixtures and Hardware: Ferguson/STS Plumbing (Kohler/Sterling)

Flooring: Allied Floor Corp. (Pal-Tile and Triwest)

Paint: Sherwin-Williams/We Painting (Promar Zov)

Lighting: Graybar/Grantco (Progress Lighting)

Students Win Honors for Housing Design in Hilo  

Design by Students: Jason Kennell & Lucas Wylie

Faculty Sponsor: Matthew Shea

Institution: University of Colorado Denver

Habitat for Humanity International Inc., the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Build With Strength Coalition and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture recently announced the winners of the 2022 Habitat Design Competition: Climate Positive Concrete Housing. The competition drew over 500 participants and received nearly 200 submissions from 23 colleges and universities across North America.

Honorable mention was awarded to architectural students Jason Kennell and Lucas Wylie of the University of Colorado Denver for their project, “Pulelehua – Precast Concrete Housing in Hilo.”

Here’s a description provided by the design team: 

The site for this multi-unit affordable housing proposal is within the Waiakea neighborhood of Hilo, which possesses several climatic conditions, most notably receiving an abundance of cloud cover and roughly 130 inches of rain a year (more than 270 days annually) making it one of the rainiest cities in Hawaii. The currently empty lot the team is working within is situated amid a cluster of single-family dwellings, just a few blocks from K-12 schools, and the University of Hawaii Hilo, making this a desirable location for families with young children to call home. 

The modular prototype uses precast concrete as the structural framework for resiliency and longevity. This proposal features three each of one-, two- and three-bedroom units based on site-specific needs and regulations. According to the project’s description, these units are aggregated in a manner that shapes interior and exterior moments to allow for varying levels of privacy based on inhabitants’ comfort levels.

Being cognizant of the environment, the team sought to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces that are open and connected with the natural elements. Natural ventilation is used to enhance the health and well-being of the occupants, and it cuts down on utility costs. The design is fully accessible as all major circulation routes and entry points to units sit at the same elevation. Interiors boast proper widths and turn radii to allow for wheelchairs to properly access the spaces.


DHHL is planning infrastructure development for new homestead subdivisions throughout the state, including maintenance and sewer improvements in some of the agency’s oldest homestead communities.

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