An Open Letter from Scott Grimmer on the affordable housing proposal at 460 Kawainui St
I support the proposed affordable housing project at the corner of Oneawa St. and Kawainui St.
The project will provide 68 one- and two-bedroom units for the next 61 years to people who earn 30%-60% of Oahu's median income. Oahu's median income is currently $84,400 for a single person and $120,500 for a family of four, so we are talking about people who earn $25,320 up to families who earn $72,300.
Rent plus utilities are capped at 30% of income, so the cheapest apartments will be $521 per month. And a family earning around $70,000 per year would pay $1,412 per month including for a two bedroom apartment.
Kailuans are skeptical of "affordable housing" because we've been duped in the past. That's why I dug into the fine print on this proposal. While other projects have been "affordable" for people making 140% of Oahu's median income (roughly $140,000), this one is targeted at people making 30%-60%. Our teachers, our single mothers, the people working in retail in Kailua town will finally get an affordable place to call home.
Homelessness, teacher shortages, and our young people settling on the mainland are all multifaceted problems, but one component of each is the lack of affordable housing. That's why I support this project.
I know many people oppose this project for legitimate reasons, and I have nothing but aloha for people who are fighting for what they think is right for the community! We need more of that citizen activism.
But what about the politicians? I am one of four Democrats on the primary ballot you'll receive by mail on July 21. Two of my opponents, Coby Chock and Alan Akao, are silent on the issue--an old politician's trick to play both sides of the fence. The other, Lisa Marten, refused to give a direct answer. Only when opponents of the project listed her position as supporting the project did she decide she opposes it. Being silent and going along with what's popular aren't leadership.
You may disagree with my position on the Kawainui affordable housing. That's OK. I bet there are many areas where we agree, like on the need to fund public education, protect the environment, and create better paying jobs in Hawaii to keep more of our young people at home.
The lesson is that when I am in office I'll fight for those things we agree on just as hard as I'm fighting for affordable housing. It's a rare politician who will actually do what he says. Let's elect one more.