News Beat: Governor Green Extends Emergency Housing Proclamation
Gov. Josh Green, M.D. (Left), surveys Lahaina with Maui Mayor Richard T. Bissen in the aftermath of the wildfires, in this Aug. 10, 2023 photo. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Amendments reflect current needs

Governor Josh Green, M.D., has signed the fifth Emergency Proclamation (EP) relating to affordable housing, which waives a number of state and county fees that add millions of dollars in costs, requires developers to build hundreds of additional affordable housing units to qualify for exemptions and expands the definition of affordable. Developers must now produce 60 percent of their units at 140 percent of the area median income (AMI) or less — instead of the previous 50 percent or more requirement.

The fifth EP is effective from Feb. 20 to April 20, 2024. It keeps many existing fee waivers in place for the interim and exempts affordable housing developers from paying state school impact fees and general excise taxes, as well as county park dedication and wastewater fees, subject to the approval of the county. These exemptions help offset rising interest rates and increasing building costs due to inflation and supply chain disruptions.

The EP also concludes the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group (BBB) and assigns the BBB’s duties to the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), which will review developer applications for eligibility and process fee waiver exemptions.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in the BBB and helped us identify the many challenges and barriers to building affordable homes in Hawai‘i,” says Green. “It is now appropriate to integrate its functions into the operations of HHFDC, which is uniquely positioned to execute the EP.”

One measure of the working group’s impact is that lawmakers have proposed about 20 bills this legislative session, seeking to codify solutions to housing challenges such as bills to make it easier for office building owners to convert commercial-zoned properties to residential; permanently repeal school impact fees for affordable housing projects and exempt projects by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands projects from paying general excise and use taxes.

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