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The first comprehensive housing factbook since the Maui wildfires has underscored the bleak state of housing affordability across the state. The University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization’s (UHERO) second edition of the annual report hopes to contribute to better-informed policy solutions to the ongoing housing crisis.

See the housing factbook

The factbook includes analyses on the high cost of housing, with a spotlight on West Maui; the overall statewide property market; challenges facing the building of new housing; the demand for housing; as well as specific data per county and zip code. UHERO’s target audience includes policy makers, journalists, housing non-profits, developers and related industries, or anyone with an interest in the housing crisis.

UHERO reported high interest rates, high prices and low supply have continued to keep housing extremely unaffordable. Prices statewide have remained elevated while the number of transactions has collapsed. The number of overall transactions in 2023 was only half of what it was in 2021, and 2023 saw fewer single-family home transactions than any of the previous 25 years.

To accompany the factbook, UHERO has also released its updated housing dashboard—an interactive tool that allows users to explore housing market data across Hawaiʻi’s neighborhoods.

Effects of Maui wildfires

The past year has brought significant shocks to the housing market in Hawaiʻi, specifically on Maui, UHERO researchers write. The fires destroyed an estimated 3,000 homes, exacerbating the existing housing shortage and generating a population of displaced families.

“Efforts to address the disaster’s consequences have run up against familiar roadblocks including rigid regulatory barriers, slow permitting and infrastructure bottlenecks,” according to the UHERO report.

Across the state, UHERO notes that policymakers have shown a willingness to act to address the housing crisis.

“The governor’s emergency proclamations on housing and county efforts to reform permitting processes are examples of government action. However these efforts will take time to show progress, and data continues to paint a picture of a market experiencing an extreme affordability crisis,” UHERO said.

High interest rates in particular are making it difficult to finance a home purchase, for developers to finance new construction and disrupts the filtering process as homeowners are reluctant to trade up and forfeit their existing low mortgage rates.

“The consequences of unaffordable housing continue to show up in out-migration (of Hawaiʻi residents), homelessness, and more families being priced out of the local market,” UHERO said.

See UHERO’s website for the entire report.

UHERO is housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences.

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