Bill Passes to Create Waiting Lists for Affordable Housing | News, Sports, Jobs

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A beachfront house near Makena Landing has solar panels on its roof. Maui County Council passed a second reading bill on Friday that would require residential buildings 5,000 square feet or more to be net zero energy in hopes of reducing the impacts of climate change. – The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

A bill that would create a waiting list for affordable housing in the hope of trying to attract more people to homes passed second and final reading on Friday.

Bill 111 would transfer responsibility for managing a waiting list for an affordable housing project and its developer qualification process to the county Department of Housing and Human Affairs or a designated third party. The county or its designated third party would also maintain a county-wide workforce housing interest list.

Maui County Council members voted 7-1 in favor of the bill, which underwent some changes on Friday. Council member Yuki Lei Sugimura voted no and Council member Kelly King was absent and apologized.

The ministry and developers have expressed concern about the county’s liability, the potential for error, and the extra work the ministry should undertake.

But board member Gabe Johnson, chairman of the council’s affordable housing committee, said the system needs to be changed because it doesn’t work with people who still need affordable housing.

He said the county or third party managed list and the proposals in the bill would stop developer management of mortgages and prevent affordable housing from swinging to market rates and then being sold at buyers off the island. It also prioritizes long-term residents.

However, part of the bill indicating that the county “must” buying the remaining affordable homes unsold was changed after much discussion at the end of the council meeting which lasted more than seven hours.

Sugimura, who introduced the amendment, was concerned about the bill requiring the county to buy the houses and preferred that the county be given the option to buy instead.

Johnson opposed the change and noted that council members should not fear the county “get stuck with bad homes.” He said his housing committee would act as a filter and “We are not going to have bad projects.

Board member Tamara Paltin suggested a “friendly amendment” say the county has the right of first refusal to buy the homes.

The final version developed by the council stated that all unsold units must first be offered to the county at the original sale price.

Council members also passed a bill on second and final reading that would require residential buildings 5,000 square feet or more to be net zero energy homes. The bill seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of residential energy use and contributions to climate change, while reducing home energy costs and improving the energy efficiency of homes across the county.

On Friday, the council was considering the agenda items that were scheduled for October 22. That meeting was adjourned after oral testimony because a paragraph regarding special access was omitted from the council’s published agenda, council chairwoman Alice Lee said by telephone on Monday.

According to the Office of Counseling Services, the omitted paragraph explained that people in need of assistance or ancillary service or accommodation due to a disability should call or email the Registrar’s Office. county for help.

Lee said changes to the Sunshine Law during the pandemic complicated matters, with various parts of the standard agenda being changed.

* Melissa Tanji can be contacted at [email protected]

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