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Dozens of Maui residents rally for affordable housing

July 20, 2021 GMT

KAHULUI, Hawaii (AP) — Dozens of Maui residents held a rally for affordable housing as the county’s median home price tops $1 million and the county council considers a new affordable housing plan.

Stand Up Maui organized the affordable housing rally, which gathered more than 40 people along Kaahumanu Avenue on Monday, The Maui News reported.

“Build affordable housing now,” resident Faith Chase yelled through a bullhorn.

Median home prices in Maui County hit $1,117,500 in June — the highest in the state. The figure was up 45% from $773,250 during the same month last year.

At the Maui County Council, a committee heard testimony about a new affordable housing plan. Some said the county should require that candidates for affordable housing have at least 20 years of residency. But the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan calls for two years of residency.

“Twenty seems like the minimum — not two years,” Maile Magalianes, a Kahului resident. “We were born here. We do not deserve to be driven out.”

Junya Nakoa of Napili said locals are angry about being displaced by people from out of state. “And then you’re talking about mainland people coming. We are sick and tired of them taking our land and our houses,” he said.

Kihei resident Tom Cook said high demand from outsiders displaces residents. He said “extreme preferential treatment” should be given to working residents.

The affordable housing plan calls for the county to spend $380 million on infrastructure, including roads, water and wastewater projects. Another $789 million would support housing for locals, including subsidies for rentals and mortgages.

Council Chairwoman Alice Lee said she has concerns about the costs of the plan, especially the infrastructure.

“If you look at our tax revenues, you will see that everyone is pretty well covered, except maybe the homeowners/owner occupied,” she said. “There may be some room there, but not much — not to the tune of 1 billion dollars.”