Fixing the Affordable Housing Crisis in Hawaii

Hawaii has the least affordable housing in the nation. This is due to strict land use regulations, according to Randal O’Toole, Grassroot Institute Scholar and author of the report, “Using Disparate Impact to Restore Housing Affordability and Property Rights”. The report was published by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

In the report, Randal O’Toole argues that a June 2015 US Supreme Court decision could make the difference in chipping away at land use regulations which have contributed to Hawaii’s housing crisis.

The Supreme Court decision authorized the use of disparate-impact considerations in judging whether government agencies are following the Fair Housing Act. That act specifically forbids the disparate treatment of minorities — that is, intentional discrimination in housing sales and rentals.

The disparate-impact doctrine asserts that policies such as zoning and land-use regulation that make it more difficult for minorities to obtain housing — even if the policies are not intended to do so — are equally in violation of the law unless the policies can be “justified by a legitimate rationale.”

Randal O’Toole demonstrates that over-regulation has contributed to Hawaii’s housing crisis, which has greatly hurt minorities. The Supreme Court’s disparate impact ruling therefore could effectively overturn numerous state and local laws, ordinances, and regulations that make housing more expensive.

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