Lingle backed on housing
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
Homeless/housing advocates yesterday endorsed the idea of increasing the share of revenue from conveyance taxes earmarked for state housing projects.
The proposal, outlined Monday by Gov. Linda Lingle, would give the Rental Housing Assistance Fund at least $2 million more each year by increasing the 25 percent share of conveyance tax collected to 50 percent. The fund is a key means of providing affordable rentals through subsidies and long-term, low-interest construction loans to developers of lower-income housing.
"The long-term solution to homelessness is the creation of many more units of affordable rental housing," Betty Lou Larson, housing program director for Catholic Charities Hawai'i, told the House Housing Committee yesterday. "The state's Rental Housing Trust Fund is a key to increasing production since it provides gap equity funding to make affordable housing projects feasible."
There is now about $10.6 million in uncommitted money in the fund, according to Stephanie Aveiro, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawai'i, the agency that administers the fund.
Housing Chairman Mike Kahikina, D-44th (Nanakuli, Honokai Hale), said he supports increasing the share of the conveyance tax and will introduce legislation to increase the actual amount of conveyance taxes on properties valued at $1 million or more to provide more money for affordable housing.
Craig Hirai, vice chairman of the legislative committee for the Hawaii Association of Realtors, said that the conveyance tax was enacted to defray the state's costs for recording land titles and that Kahikina's proposal is misguided. Hirai favors using a share of general excise taxes collected on residential rents for the housing fund.
Kahikina said he is studying that proposal, as well as one to split up the public housing and housing development functions of the HCDCH.