International World Hawaii official wants to replicate Singapore's public housing program to address housing...

Hawaii official wants to replicate Singapore’s public housing program to address housing shortage

The US state may emulate Singapore in providing residents low-cost, high-density leasehold homes on state-owned lands close to public transport.




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Hawaii is facing a housing crisis, and finding an affordable residence in the state has become more and more difficult. There are several ongoing construction sites along residential areas, most of which are high rise condominiums. Hawaii reportedly has one of the most expensive housing prices in the US.

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In Hawaii, the average cost of a single family home is at US$800,000 (S$1,086,856) while a condo costs US$400,000 (S$543,428) on average. Experts project that Hawaii will need thousands of new residential units in the next five years.

To resolve the housing crisis, Hawaii State Senator Stanley Chang has made a proposal to replicate Singapore’s public housing program. The Affordable Locally Owned Homes for All (ALOHA) program aims to “provide low-cost, high-density leasehold homes for sale to Hawaii residents on state-owned lands within a one-half mile radius of a public transit station.”

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“I think it’s important that if we’re going to try to solve a problem, that we go to the successful examples of where that problem has been solved,” according to Chang.

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The state senator admired Singapore’s public housing program in which most residents live in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats that are available for less than US$300,000 on the resale market. The ALOHA plan proposes to set up an agency similar to the HDB to oversee the construction and management of similar residences.

Condominium buildings would be constructed on government-owned land to reduce costs. Additionally, the ALOHA plan lists a 99-year lease on flat units that can be passed down to children or sold.

Chang also stated that “[Singapore] has essentially solved the housing problem.”

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However, the proposal has been met with skepticism. An economics professor cited that construction costs US$400,000 to US$500,000 for residences, so it would be unrealistic for the government to sell units at US$300,000. The ALOHA proposal has not been voted for by the House of Representatives, but supporters intend to push through the bill again next year./TISG

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