Aiona proposes affordable housing solutions for Hawaii

Former Lt Gov Duke Aiona
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Former Lt Gov Duke Aiona
Former Lt Gov Duke Aiona

HONOLULU – Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, Hawaii’s Republican candidate for governor, unveiled his plans this week for an affordable housing solution for Hawaii.

He calls the program H.O.P.E., which stands for Home Ownership Personal Equity Affordable Housing Program.


HOPE is “unique” rental program that essentially acts as a layaway program for future housing.

The longer renters stay and the more they pay in rent, the more equity builds in their account for a down payment.

The program will impact 5,200 people per year, and won’t need legislative approval or taxpayer financing, Aiona said.

The governor’s office would help to ensure approval processes are streamlined, identify state lands and existing properties for housing, and provide possible new tax incentives.

“This model hasn’t been implemented in the nation, much less in the state of Hawaii,” Aiona said. “In fact, it’s a locally-developed innovative concept that directly addresses the needs of residents who suffer the worst cost of living and housing expenses in the nation.”


Q: What will the Governor’s Office do to support this initiative? 

A:  Duke Aiona will support this through the commitment of streamlining the approval process, challenging the private sector to partner with the State and identifying state lands and/or existing properties, Hawaiian Homelands or private sector lands that could be developed for the incubator rental housing.

Duke Aiona will also consider offering this opportunity within State-run housing projects without displacing existing tenants.

Duke Aiona will also partner with non-profit housing and possibly provide possible new tax incentives, including eliminating GET on rents within these projects so community-owners build equity faster.

Q. What do Community Owners have to agree to? 

A. Community owners agree to stay in the unit for a certain amount of time in order to create community and stability within the property.

Community Owners also agree to maintain the property as they would if they owned it and pay rent on time.

Additionally, Community Owners will be expected to participate in home ownership and financial management education programs which will better prepare them for owning their own home.

Q. Who provides mentorship to Community Owners
A. Local partners and developers mentor and provide education opportunities to Community Owners.

Q.  How do Community Owners earn equity? 

A:  This is a unique rental program that essentially acts as a layaway program for future housing. The longer renters stay and the more they pay in rent, the more equity builds in their account for a down payment.

A sample of how tenants earn equity is: 

Monthly Rent  Monthly Developer Maintenance Fees Number of Years Tenant Pays at Initial Rate Down Payment Account Balance
$1,500 $500 5 $20,160
    10 $44,520
    15 $74,550
    20 $110,880
    25 $155,600

Q: What happens to the renter’s equity if they leave Hawaii or pass away? 

A: The rental equity maybe with withdrawn only for the purposes of purchasing a home on the open market. Should a Community Owner pass away during their term, the equity is transferable to the next generation for purposes of home ownership.

Q: What happens to equity if a person leaves the program?

A: The equity is equally redistributed to others within the program.

Q. Why would a developer do this? 

A.  The developer benefits because s/he continues to gain equity on the rental property while having reliable, stable tenants.

Q. Can Community Owners make additional payments towards their equity?

A. Yes, Community Owners are encouraged to either save separately or add to their equity through additional payments. ​





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