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Maui housing bill recommitted after institute gives testimony

Testimony from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii helped convince members of the Maui County Council this week that a bill to impose a form of price fixing on new affordable housing projects should be reconsidered.

Joe Kent, institute executive vice president, submitted written testimony regarding Bill 107 last Friday, then delivered oral testimony via Zoom on Monday, during which he added more thoughts to counter statements made at the hearing in defense of the bill.

For example, one proponent of the bill suggested that homebuilders would not have to take a loss on their building costs because the county could pay the difference.

Said Kent: “The county could cover those losses, but that would mean taxpayers would be paying to refund developers for their costs. In other words, Maui residents who are struggling to pay their mortgages would be also paying for the mortgages of their neighbors.”

He continued: “If it’s done through bonds, then taxpayers would have to repay the bond plus interest. And interest rates are high right now. This means more money would be going towards debt service instead of paying for infrastructure like roads, bridges, water, electricity and so on.”

Kent tackled other arguments as well. In the end, the bill was recommitted, meaning it was sent back to the Council’s Affordable Housing Committee to be worked on some more.

“The recommittal of Bill 107 is a minor victory for us,” Kent said, “but the bill is still alive. I’m not sure when it will be heard again.”

Whenever that is, the institute will be standing by to fight for the goal of providing more housing, rather than throwing more barriers in the way.

To read Kent’s written testimony, go here. To see and hear his oral testimony, complete with transcript, go here.

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