Faith Action for Community Equity (Faith Action) uses a uniquely democratic process to select the issues it will act upon. When an organization joins Faith Action, they agree to engage their members in a Listening Process that deepens relationships and uncovers their hopes, talents, and concerns. Unit-specific concerns are addressed by the individual unit members. Community issues are worked on throughout the year by Faith Action's members who are directly affected by the issues raised. At the beginning of each year, Faith Action gathers its members to identify the top local and statewide organizational priorities that will be addressed based on these Listening Process reports. We then establish committees represented by each of our member units to work on those issues. The issue committees conduct research and develop an action strategy that normally involves holding decision-makers accountable.
Faith Action members continue to conduct their Listening Processes and have identified our issues and priorities for 2020-2021: Affordable Housing, Long Term Care, Economic Justice and Environmental Justice.
The lack of affordable housing continues to be one of the most critical issues for Hawaii's residents. A common refrain in almost every one-on-one meeting is the fear that our children will have to choose between living their life in Hawaii or moving elsewhere. We are experiencing a serious housing crisis. Faith Action sees this crisis as requiring a response from people of faith. Our HousingNow! task force works to address this issue. Our increasing population and income disparities paired with an increased cost of living, offshore purchases and skyrocketing land values, and a dramatic decrease in the number of rental properties collectively contribute to forcing people out of the housing market and into overcrowded living situations and homelessness.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that the area median income for Honolulu County is $96,000 for 2018. The area median income for a family of four making 100 percent in 2018 is $116,600. Eighty percent (80%) of the AMI (Area Median Income) for a family of four is $93,280. Clearly, this is not “affordable” for most families.
Last year (2019), Faith Action members provided written and oral testimony on HB 1312 which passed, allocating another $50 million to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund.
Faith Action advocated strongly for REITs taxation bill SB 301. This bill passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the Governor.
Faith Action organized an Affordable Housing Summit on Oʻahu on September 21, 2019. The event brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss the state’ Affordable Housing Rental Report and ten-year plan, and solutions to get to the goal of building 18,000 affordable housing units on Oahu by 2025.
Faith Action continues to support housing projects that provide affordable housing at 30 - 80% AMI (Area Median Income) as well as mixed-income housing construction.
Our HousingNow! task force meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. Members work on legislative priorities, brainstorm new policies and agenda, conduct research, and plan for actions and events. Meetings are still ongoing and are conducted remotely via Zoom. If you would like to be involved in this committee, please contact Keith Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Affordable Housing Issues
Kawainui Affordable Rental Project
Faith Action's HousingNow! task force is currently taking a leading role in supporting the Kawainui Affordable Rental Project in Kailua, HI.
This proposed development consists of 73 rental housing units located at the corner of Kawainui St. and Oneawa St. in downtown Kailua. Ninety-five percent of the units are for local families earning $36,000-$72,000 per year, with monthly rents of $521-$1400 per month.
Kailua has an especially great need for affordable housing, and many long-time residents are forced to move out of the area due to the rise in housing costs. Kailua has one of the highest housing cost-to-income ratios on the island: Housing costs consume 45% of household income in Kailua, compared to 29% for urban Honolulu.
The Kawainui Affordable Rentals will provide truly affordable housing for over 70 local families. We believe it is time to work together to provide housing for all of those who make up the fabric of our community.
To learn more go to: https://www.affordable-kailua.com/
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During the Fall of 2018, the Faith Action Housing Now! Coalition focused its meetings on determining our legislative priorities. Several members heard that REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) were not paying their fair share of state taxes and wanted everyone to learn more, so they invited experts to present to our members. Members were shocked to find out that REITs now own real estate worth $18 billion. These REITs include marquee developments such as Ala Moana Center and Hilton Hawaiian Village who do not pay income tax here in Hawaii. REITs already receive a generous federal tax break and benefit from Hawaii’s low property tax rates. As a result, Faith Action members voted to support the push to hold REITs accountable for their share of state income tax in Hawaii as a way of bringing in revenue to the state.
It is estimated that imposing the 6.40% income tax on REITs operating here in Hawaii will increase state revenue by $30-60 million each year, funds which are crucially needed for developing affordable housing, infrastructure, and public education.
A bill to eliminate the REITs tax loophole has not been passed yet, however, Faith Action's HousingNow! task force will continue to support and organize around this important issue.
Aloha Stadium Entertainment
District Redevelopment Plan
The Aloha Stadium Redevelopment is a $350 million dollar project funded by the state to redevelop the Aloha Stadium and surrounding areas. This project takes place on 98 acres of state-owned land in the Halawa Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zone. Current proposals only include 2,000 housing units on the property with no requirements for the housing to be affordable (80% AMI or below). Faith Action's HousingNow! Coalition believes this land would be an ideal opportunity to develop affordable housing units to address Hawaii's critical housing needs.
According to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) 2015 report, 64,700 to 66,000 additional housing units are needed statewide by 2025 to meet Hawaii’s housing demand. The majority - 70% of those units would need to be affordable for households earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
Click below to read our Aloha Stadium Position Paper and learn more about this issue.
Faith Action's Long-Term Care Task Force worked closely with Caring Across Generations and celebrated a landmark victory when the Kupuna Caregivers Program legislation was signed by Governor Ige into law in June 2017. A first of its kind in the nation, Hawaii made national news with the passage of Act 102, which established a fund to provide caregivers with an allowance of $70 per day for care-giving services. This compensates family members working 30 hours per week or more who would otherwise have to give up jobs or work shorter hours to care for aging family members.
Because of our collective work, the Legislature initially appropriated $600,000 to fund the program in 2017. We continued to push for increased funding and helped to secure the appropriation of $1.5 million for the Kupuna Caregivers Program in 2019, an increase from $1.2 million in 2018. This year, we continue to support SB 2342 SD 1, which allocates additional funding for the program and reduces the amount of required hours a week, from 30 to 20, that a caregiver must be employed in order to qualify for the program.
Our Long-Term Care Task Force meets bi-weekly to address the needs of our kupuna and their caregivers. If you would like to be involved in this committee, please contact Dr. Clementina Ceria-Ulep, Assistant Dean of the U.H. Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene and Long-Term Care Committee Chair, at email@example.com.
In 2014, Faith Action was instrumental in raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to the current $10.10/hr. With costs of living and housing continuing to rise, Hawaii workers now require much more than $10.10/hr just to be able to afford their basic needs.
In 2020, Faith Action joined in the fight again to raise Hawaii's minimum wage by supporting HB 2541 and joining the Raise Up Hawaii Coalition's Living Wage Campaign.
According to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) , $17/hr is the minimum wage a single person with no kids needs to earn in Hawaii in order to afford basic necessities.
HB 2541 proposes to raise the state's minimum wage gradually up to $13/hr by 2024. While this is a step in the right direction, Faith Action along with the Raise Up Hawaii Coalition has been strongly advocating that the bill be revised to raise the wage to $17/hr by 2025.
Faith Action's Recovery task force is working to advance economic justice by focusing on mitigating the negative economic effects caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings are held every 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 4:00 pm via Zoom. Email Ashleigh Loa at for more information.
In early 2020, Faith Action officially launched its new Environmental Justice Task Force which is aimed to mobilize our state officials to take massive action on addressing climate change and protect our state's natural resources. Addressing these critical issues will allow our organization to adopt a broader, holistic approach in challenging the systems which perpetuate inequality and injustice. We acknowledge the strong connection between climate change, social justice and equity. By protecting our natural environment we can ensure the livelihood of our communities and future generations to come.
The Environmental Justice Task Force will mobilize our communities through education, outreach, community organizing and self-determination. It will also educate youth on effective community organizing and advocacy so they can become future leaders in this movement.
Faith Action's Environmental Justice Task Force convenes bi-weekly on every other Wednesday at 5:00 PM. Meetings are currently being conducted remotely via Zoom. Please email Soo Schake at for more information.