Affordable Housing on Oahu: A 2022 Guide

Affordable housing Oahu 2022 is a common concern among the residents of the island. More than a million people call this place home, but home prices are out of reach for many. Knowing how to apply for affordable housing in Hawaii and also discovering it helps you find a place to call home that makes economic sense for your situation and budget.

What Is Affordable Housing in Oahu?

The Short Answer:

The short answer is that affordable Oahu housing projects stem from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. The HHFDC was authorized by Chapter 20H of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. The organization is intended to either assist with or be responsible for the development of particular housing projects.

The Longer Answer:

Affordable housing in Oahu means that applicants who are qualified and eligible to get homes below market prices. The buying prices are based on income. The specific income limits vary with each project.

Income limits are set as a percentage of the Area Median Income. Also known as AMI, this is established by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. As an example, affordable housing units for sale at the Kapiolani Residence limit the buyer’s overall household income to 120% AMI.

Affordability Is Subjective

Talking with others about the concept of affordable housing can create confusion and even conflict. Most aspiring homeowners are naturally concerned with the costs involved with residential spaces. That’s a national truth, but the costs of living anywhere in Hawaii puts even more stress on residents. Given that, the state government constantly seeks to create affordable housing for residents in need.

What Are the Income Requirements?

The actual income limits are different for each project. The median income level is also set by the HUD on an annual basis. Total household income is the primary factor in making a determination, and it’s established using the HUD median income in effect at the time.

Total Household Income

Total household income means the sum incomes of:

  • The primary applicant
  • The spouse
  • Any household members 18 years and up who live with family now and will also live in the purchased unit
  • Incomes from co-applicants, co-applicant spouses, and their household members 18 and up are also added if need be

 

Income Inclusions and Exclusions

Income calculations include the following:

  • Full-time employment
  • Cost of living allowances or COLA
  • Pensions
  • Annuity distributions
  • Net rental income
  • Workers compensation
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Social Security benefits
  • VA compensation
  • Dividends
  • Part-time work comprising an overall work week of 40 hours
  • Interest
  • Royalties

 

Income calculations do not include these:

  • Bonuses
  • Overtime
  • Income from any secondary part-time jobs

 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the HHFDC?

Applicants have to meet several criteria. For starters, they need to either be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident alien. They also need to be a minimum of 18 years of age.

The HHFDC also requires applicants to be domiciled within the state. They need to also physically reside in any dwelling unit that they purchase. Applicants must also have enough gross household income in order to qualify for any loan they use to finance their purchase.

Applicants can not be, by themselves, through marriage, or with another member of the household, a majority owner of lands capable of swelling purposes.

There is also an expectation of residents to have a genuine intention of living in the residence during a “restriction period”. This is something else that varies from one project to the next, but it’s often a period of 10 years.

Restrictions

Applicants can not have bought a home that was previously sponsored by the:

  • Hawaii Housing Authority
  • HHFDC
  • HFDC
  • HCDCH
  • County government
 

This includes any assistance as a result of:

  • Chapter 201E, HRS
  • Chapter 201G, HRS
  • Chapter 201H, HRS
  • Chapter 359G, HRS

The HHFDC might allow reapplications on a case-by-case basis for previous buyers if:

  • The county or state bought the first home back and the family had a substantial change in income, size, or place of employment
  • The county or state bought the first home back because of extreme hardship on the family due to disability, unemployment, death, or divorce
  • Selling the first home didn’t result in profit
  • The first home was sold for restricted pricing before being sold directly to a qualified resident with income under 120% AMI
 

Should buyers decide to rent, sell, or transfer their homeownership before the usual period of 10 years has passed, they must provide notice to the Budget & Fiscal Services department. The BFS gets first refusal rights to buy the unit back. They have the power to mandate the owner sell that unit to qualified residents in a similar income category to the original buyer.

Once the buyback restriction period is over, owners can do what they wish with the home. This is when affordable buyers often enjoy the true benefit of the program. Such buyers usually wind up with a lot of money since they bought homes at subsidized prices and the homes appreciate in value over that decade.

After the 10-year buyback period expires, owners are free to sell, rent, or transfer ownership of their homes as they wish. This is where affordable buyers will realize the full potential of the program. Buyers that sell their homes after the 10-yr period expires have historically walked away with a substantial chunk of money, given that they were allowed to buy the home and subsidized price, not to mention the appreciation of the home over the course of 10 years.

 

The Shared Appreciation Equity Program

The SAE program lets buyers have the chance to buy a unit priced below the market. In exchange, the buyer lets the future net appreciation of the property be split with the state government. This revenue is then used to fund more affordable housing for Hawaii residents.

The SAE restrictions are in effect until such time the HHFDC has its full share of appreciation and thus removes the program restrictions. The SAE has to be paid when a sale, rent, or transfer happens, and it can be paid after closing at any time.

SAE is calculated by:

  1. First, subtract the purchase price from the current fair market value
  2. Second, divide the first number by the current fair market value

The share percentage is ascertained before closing contingent upon the appraised value of the bought property.

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