Affordable Micro-Housing is getting better!

pexels-photo-347141.jpegIt has become a major issue for the State of Hawaii to provide affordable housing options for a large and increasing population. The cost of living in this state is one of the highest in the nation. It becomes more challenging to overcome the difficult task of finding solutions each year. No active legislation has addressed the permit backlog and dumping of costs toward development companies to explore affordable housing solutions. This along with increasing real estate prices and standard return on investment reasoning makes for low production of affordable and low-income housing. If permitted some properties can qualify for subsidies and grants to stay in operation, without the displacement of fixed income residents that would otherwise not have enough money for rent. Other regions have transit-oriented funds that provide financing as incentives for development near mass transit infrastructure. Young professionals and new families find it difficult to afford rental properties for housing with the rising costs in Hawaii.  How can they plan on building a future and family with little hope of owning a home while real estate prices continue to rise faster than earnable income levels for most residents?

Many families in our state have remained in multi-generational living situations due to the cost of living and housing. If we are hoping to retain our resident population we need to provide more options for them to consider continued residency as they look to provide a stable living for themselves and their children. Real estate prices continue to increase at a rate of 3% for homes and 5% for condos annually. Median prices for single-family houses and condos reaching all-time highs for the 5th year and are projected to continue increasing to nearly $800,000.00 for a house and $430,000.00 for a condominium in 2018. The average income has not changed at a corresponding rate of increase with that of real estate prices. Income at $83,700.00 annually for a household of four is now considered “low-income” on Oahu, according to HUD calculations. Include the semi-transient military residents and their impact on housing availability along with high demand pricing that corresponds directly to the influx and redeployment of most military families in Hawaii. These factors create a desperate situation for the average household in planning and affording the future.

In many cities with lower cost of living than those in Hawaii, the need for affordable or transitional housing has continued to fall short of demand. New construction technologies and lower cost materials are helping to facilitate the planning of realistic solutions across the country. Victor Geminiani is co-executive director of the Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. He says privatization of public affordable housing can work but a culture of inclusion is key.

One of the biggest obstacles for existing communities and housing facilities is long-term stability and managing overhead. The real question is how do we encourage partial privatization of affordable housing that can provide long-term solutions for individuals, young families and the elderly in an ever-expanding population? Some property developments incorporate the rising costs of maintenance with homeowner association dues and condominium fees. These additional fees can exclude residents due to the cost. Dues and fees are commonly used to provide the community with a sustainable environment, retained market value, and standard of living. Many associations also impose restrictions and regulations that also maintain the common areas for community activities, trails, parks, and recreation centers.

Prefabricated units of various design have been incorporated in vertical communities that also provide a range of social services for the elderly and low-income residents. In other rural areas, the same prefabricated or minimum construction type units are placed in communal environments that are available to poverty level families in desperate need. These subsidized programs and need additional consideration to accommodate the next level of income and provide realistic options for those living at or slightly above the poverty line.

Millennials are primarily looking for locations that provide easy access to amenities, transportation and municipalities, including some luxury conveniences, while less concerned about dwelling size. In an attempt to attract this consumer many cities have allowed loosened restrictions on minimum dwelling size and the permit process for build-out. Less than 1 % of existing housing stock is built each year.  The construction of modular and prefabricated housing units have evolved along with commercial use and office design. The incorporation of useful public facilities and resources to an existing rural landscape can facilitate the build-out of communities, especially with portable types of buildings and prefabricated designs that accommodate a variety of uses including housing. The use of micro-units would provide flexibility and affordability.

In recent years some cities were looking to rent out parking stalls for residential use, the “9×18” proposal by the Institute for Public Architecture examined the relationship of housing expense and regulations for land use such as parking stalls and their use per resident. In a groundbreaking step towards new residential design and construction concepts, cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles lead the way with innovation and modernization. Each region has its own geography and culture to consider. In the trial stages, their existing projects are seeing success and also the need to consider multiple-story townhouse and cottage units for neighborhood variety and appeal. The design for many campus communities today already look to this type of micro-unit housing solution.

Subsidizing the build out of modernized scalable communities would promote personal investment from future generations. As our economic system does not allow for income adjustments according to fluctuations in property values, updated legislation for (IHA) Independent Housing Accounts, financial education programs, and other tax-based incentives need to find resolution through public policy. The time is now for realistic goals to be formulated and implemented.

The economy continues to reshape itself in our more populated cities and towns. Urban and rural environments are blending with state of the art designs like green roofs, solar panels, and micro-housing. We must find more affordable and efficient methods of commuting and living if we are to remain desirable as the price of residency in Hawaii is becoming more exclusive. Simplified creative designs for micro-unit construction and ergonomic environments provide better use of space within less square footage.

The State reports it’s on track to build 10,000 new residential units by 2020, 40% of those to be affordable. The State must also develop alternatives like micro-housing that our existing residents will find desirable and be able to afford. It would be prudent for agencies and programs to model those that have seen success in other states and regions. Budgeting for state-regulated programs that focus on retention of public housing through grants and privatization provide needed relief. New and updated legislation is required and must encourage private investment in affordable housing programs along with incentives to strengthen our infrastructure and resources for residents, not the absentee-owners or outside investors.

Mark Broome~

References: Victor Geminiani


Ms. Farah Pandith testifies!!

Ms. Farah Pandith testified before Congress on the 15th of July 2015, that a way to stop terrorism is to impede recruitment of youth as members. How can a community prevent youth from pursuing terrorist ideals? She has an 8 page testimony explaining her independent opinion.

Ms. Farah Pandith developed some ground breaking concepts in countering the recruitment of misunderstood youth struggling to identify with culture and society. Pandith’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs seem to be and effective means of building up a positive network to challenge the terrorist ideals. Organic voices on the ground that could push back against recruitment to radicalization. Her work to give new agency and purpose to this generation and build credible voices at the community level strives to educate and motivate with a positive message. It seems we are in desperate need to continue developing new methods to prevent our youth from finding purpose in radicalization. Promoting positive ideals and role models is not enough if the message falls on deaf ears.

Messages of hope and peace are lacking in the massive onslaught from social media like YouTube. The popular thing today is extreme and dramatic and thus follows the news or fake news in any situation. We need to build images of good will, peace and global reform into our existing framework of communication while we reinforce them with real actions. It is easy to overlook the struggle of others if we feel our lives are difficult. A realistic perspective starts at home and needs to grow from there. If it is negative at home than that’s what will grow from it. Challenges need to be resolved for people to have faith in meeting them. A system for resolution is not always available within a community. In areas of conflict or war this is mostly the case.

Innovation in social reform seems to start with grassroots organizations struggling to find solutions to major problems not addressed at government levels. Many times lack of trust in government or its officials are causes for uprising. How the community feels and reacts to these government responses can trigger a radicalization of influential role models. I believe the idea of giving people a positive cause and a real voice in the community can help prevent violent uprising. The new generation has a hard time identifying with a community. As the internet and new media continue to flood our lives with struggles and triumph at a global level we need to change our method of building a solid foundation to fall back on if no connection to community is present.

~Mark Broome

Jack Johnson plays concert at Mililani High to support new fresh lunch program

Feb 21, 2018 08:19 PM
MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – There’s a new farm-to-school initiative at Mililani High School that’s getting the attention of local lawmakers – and famous musicians.
The school hosted a concert by famous North Shore entertainer Jack Johnson on Wednesday in a show of support for a program designed to tap local farms to provide fresh produce the high school can use in its lunches.
The program, which encourages healthy eating and buying local, is called Aina Pono Farm to School. Over the last several weeks, it’s been recognized by Lt. Gov. Chin and other DOE officials.
Now, school lunches – which have a street rep of not always being the most appetizing – are being revamped.
“The farm to school new menu items have been more flavorful, the appearance and taste is better, and we’re not only supporting local farms, but we’re producing less waste,” Mililani High School Student Activities Coordinator Janet Ward said.
Students are also seeing value in the program.
“The school senate has been working hard to get student feedback and insight to what students would like in our cafeteria. We love how this initiative supports local farms and teaches the students about sustainability,” Associated Students of Mililani High School President Alyssa Yamada-Barretto said.
“A huge thanks to all those who are helping make this vision become a reality,” she added.
Jack Johnson and fellow entertainers Paula Fuga and David Kahiapo to jammed to a small crowd in a cafeteria concert for the kids for Wednesday’s kick-off meal.
“When you see all that food being made from scratch you realize that more food from Hawaii, farmers grew that food here, that food is coming to the schools now. As this grows, it’ll put more farmers on the land,” said Johnson, co-Founder and vice-president of Kokua Hawaii Foundation.
The students also helped with a two-week audit of their lunch waste audit and that was spearheaded by Johnson’s foundation to collect data for the program.
The first public school to kick off the Aina Pono Farm to School program was Kohala High and Elementary. Next is a Maui school. The goal is one day have scratch made meals in every public school.
“We are revamping all school meals across the state. Here right now we are doing about 60 percent processed and 40 percent fresh food and we are trying to increase local,” said Albert Scales, School Food Branch Program Administrator.
Aina Pono hopes to increase local food purchases by the Hawaii DOE to 40 percent.

Dillon Ancheta
Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved

The Invisible Wounds of Soldiers | Psychology Today

Injuries Unseen are Real to those who Serve. Ethical behavior starts at a very young age. It’s the rules we are taught and how we are raised, the environment we live in, and the lessons we learn from our parents. Knowing what is right from wrong. We also get it from religion and culture. Ethics comes down to our personal experiences and the reactions from other people.
We get it from society- what may be okay in some cultures may not be viewed the same in another. Our ethics started forming at an early age. We often look to our elders for ethical behaviors. When we should in some cases, ask the younger generation what ethics are? (How they think things should be?)
Ethics is both right and wrong. Would we treat someone outside of our circle, differently based on what is ethical, or what suits us better? We would probably treat the other person better, depending upon the situation.
Some of the primary sources that may shape our position on ethics often come from our parents or other family members. Friends, teachers, other students, church groups, etc. all have a primary role on the development of ethical interactions, which now include social media. For an example, we know it is wrong to borrow money from another’s piggy bank without permission, even though the government finds ways to do this legally. We should ethically not borrow with no intention of repayment or other compensation for the loan.
In our post-combat generational situation today, we forget to understand the impact on moral principles to the lives of those who return home, or to civilian life after military service. We should consider better programs for unseen injuries. The recent article in Psychology Today “The Invisible Wounds of Soldiers” is available for review. Check out the link

Mark Broome

UH gets funding to grow with GoFarm, watch the YouTube video. 

 The University of Hawaiʻi’s farmer-training program GoFarm Hawaiʻi, has received $600,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The funding will “allow GoFarm Hawaiʻi to continue training aspiring farmers to increase local agricultural production.”

GoFarm’s five program sites across four islands, making it one of the largest beginning-farmer training programs in the nation. 

Sites are: 


(Waimāanalo and Waialua), 



Hawaiʻi Island. 

“Started in 2012, the program has trained more than 260 aspiring farmers throughout the state.”

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