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City Awards Contract To UHERO For Development Of Housing Database

HONOLULU -- Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Monday that the City and County of Honolulu has awarded a contract to the University of Hawai‘i's Economic Research Organization (UHERO) to fund the development and maintenance of an Oʻahu housing database that will list all of the island's subsidized and price-restricted housing units, including units that are still under development.

The Mayor's Office of Housing will oversee the contract, which states that UHERO will provide a curated database that includes all subsidized and price-restricted housing units across the City and County of Honolulu, including future developments for which subsidies and price or program restrictions have already been allocated.

"As we develop momentum in our housing efforts, we recognize completely that the availability and affordability of housing is one of the most important issues facing Oʻahu residents, but understanding a problem is a critical prerequisite when it comes to offering a set of solutions," said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. "By partnering with UHERO to create this housing database, we will be able to use concrete data to better develop our affordable housing strategies that we know will impact generations of residents across our island."

The publicly-accessible database will be maintained by UHERO and available online, providing users with a variety of different data points, including, but not limited to:

  • The total number of subsidized or price-restricted housing units on Oʻahu.
  • The location of those housing units, including property name and address.
  • Whether housing units were targeted for specific populations (senior housing, workforce housing, etc.).
  • And the construction funding source or subsidy program that applies to each unit or housing development.

Dr. Philip Garboden, a professor at the University of Hawai‘i, will take lead on the project for UHERO.

"There is a remarkable range of subsidized and price-restricted housing on Oʻahu, and the devil is really in the details," said Dr. Garboden. "What groups does it serve? Who owns it? Where is it located? And, importantly, how long until it reverts back to market prices? This database will pull data across all agencies to paint a full picture of this precious resource."

Nani Medeiros, a member of Governor Josh Green's inaugural administration who serves as the state's Chief Housing Officer, responded to the announcement by commending the City's efforts to improve Oʻahu's affordable housing infrastructure. UHERO intends to eventually expand the housing database to include the entire state.

"I agree completely on the need for housing data and the importance of data-driven decisions to identify housing supply shortfalls and price increases," said Medeiros. "This database is aligned with our efforts at the State to create a similar platform to track all housing projects in the pipeline and their status in the various county and state permitting processes. I commend Mayor Blangiardi and look forward to using this valuable tool."

"Once we have the data pulled together, the vision is to provide it publicly," added Dr. Garboden. "We think it will be really helpful to government agencies, but, more importantly, it will help the public understand where we're at as a county in terms of helping families secure housing. And we also hope the folks who live in this housing will help us ensure the data is accurate and up to date."

The database will also serve as a tool to help City agencies -- including the Department of Planning and Permitting, the Department of Community Services, the Department of Land Management and the Mayor's Office of Housing -- better understand the City's current housing supply and shortfall, analyze future housing costs and develop strategies to deploy new financing mechanisms to build and preserve housing.

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