History of the Hawai'i Public Housing Authority


The Hawai‘i Housing Authority was created by the Territorial Legislature to provide safe and sanitary housing for low-income residents of Hawai‘i. Two years later, the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 made federal construction funds available.


After December 7, 1941, an unprecedented defense building program began. After the war, a civilian housing shortage loomed and affordable housing was hard to come by. The average charged in an HHA unit was $14.03 per month.


The HHA was Hawai‘i’s largest rental agency. Throughout the 1950’s, O‘ahu experienced unprecedented economic growth with development spreading in the windward and leeward areas. By the end of the decade, HHA completed eight new developments which provided 1,752 new units for Hawai‘i’s families.


The Governor issued an executive order implementing the Government Reorganization Act of 1959, which created a new Department, and placed the Hawai‘i Housing Authority in the Department of Social Services for administrative purposes only. By the mid-60’s, the HHA had responded to the changes in the housing market and opened housing projects designed for the special economic, social and physical needs of Hawai‘i’s senior citizens.

Photo of the main administrative offices of the Hawai‘i Housing Authority in the 1960’s


By 1970, the State Legislature broadened HHA’s duties by enacting Act 105 which permitted the State to raise $100 million to build low and moderate income housing.


By 1988, HHA had developed through Act 105, a staggering 10,132 dwelling units—single family, townhouse, duplex, apartment and house lot unit types. The State of Hawai‘i’s Housing Finance and Development Corporation was created by Act 337 as part of Governor John Waihe‘e’s initiative to create one streamlined State organization to promote and develop a continuum of affordable housing. The change allowed the HHA to refocus its energies as the statewide public housing authority.


In the 1990’s, the HHA once again broadened its responsibilities adding the State’s Homeless Programs. During this time, the HHA also realized the value of a comprehensive approach and grew its programs on drugs and crime prevention, education, job training and self-sufficiency. HHA opened the Family Investment center to address the self-sufficiency needs of families in public housing. Equipped with a computer lab and classrooms, residents were able to complete GED classes and obtain valuable job training. Former Executive Director, the late Mitsuo Shito listens to a resident at an event on Moloka‘i in the 1980’s.


By June 1998, the HHA must once again ride the waves of change when it is abolished. Act 350, under the Cayetano Administration, consolidated the Hawai‘i Housing Authority and Housing Finance and Development Corporation into a single housing agency known as the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawai‘i (HCDCH).


On July 5, 2005, Act 196 effectively bifurcated the HCDCH into two agencies, the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) and the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC). Under this new structure, HPHA’s core function is to manage federal and state public housing programs, including Section 8 and senior housing. In the next year, Homeless Programs are transferred to the Department of Human Services.


Pursuant to Act 89 of the 2010 Hawai‘i Session Laws, the Homeless Programs Section was transferred from HPHA to the Benefit, Employment, and Support Services Division (BESSD) of DHS.


The HPHA achieved a record high occupancy of 98% in its public housing programs. The Section 8 Program is rated a high performer under the Federal Assessment System. With a combined State and Federal capital program, the HPHA is managing approximately $150M in ongoing design and construction projects for its aging inventory.


The HPHA embarked on expansion and redevelopment of its property inventory by establishing public/private relationships for the redevelopment of Mayor Wright Homes, HPHA’s N. School Street Administrative Offices, and Kūhiō Park Terrace.


The HPHA successfully exhausted the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waitlist, after ten years of being closed due to the amount of applicants requesting vouchers. The HPHA is now working toward assisting new residents suffering hardship with their housing needs.


For the first time, the HPHA’s independent auditors report that there are no compliance findings related to internal controls over the HPHA’s major programs and no audit findings. This is a major accomplishment for the HPHA with the steady progress made in reducing and eventually removing all audit findings since 2012.


The HPHA entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of Hawai‘i Community Design Center to conduct multi-disciplinary efforts across departments at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa including the School of Architecture, Center on the Family, and the Department of Sociology.

HPHA by the Numbers

The impact of the HPHA is largely invisible to the general public. This section presents a broad understanding of HPHA’s current assets, programs offered, and future potential.

Providing Housing for Hawai'i

In 2022, HPHA was able to serve over 45,000 people with safe, decent and affordable housing through the efficient and fair delivery of housing services.
people served and housed by HPHA.
are persons with disabilities.

HPHA is dedicated in providing housing for all. Better assisting persons with disabilities by providing decent and safe rental housing is one of HPHA’s goals.

are adults over the age of 21.

Since the mid 1960’s, the HPHA (then the Hawai‘i Housing Authority) had been providing housing  specifically designed for the special economic, social and physical  needs of Hawai‘i’s senior citizens.

were homeless at admission.

HPHA works to reduce homelessness. Across the State of Hawai‘i, housing for our residents in the low-income to workforce income spectrum is on the top priority list at all government levels. HPHA works closely with Federal State and County partners to find solutions to increase our housing inventory and prevent homelessness.

served are families.

HPHA strives to provide housing for families. Today, the HPHA Federal and State Low Income Public Housing programs combine to serve over 5,600 families.

Public Housing Units

HPHA manages 6,270 units spread across 85 properties. The mix of these units consist of 933 studios, 1,583 one bedrooms, 1,656 two bedrooms, 1,551 three bedrooms, 487 four bedrooms, and 60 five bedrooms.
public housing units managed by HPHA.
adjusted occupancy rate.

The HPHA achieved ab adjusted occupancy rate of 96% in its public housing programs.

units subsidized.

A majority of the public housing units are subsidized by HUD.

units unsubsidized.

A portion of the public housing units are subsidized by the State.

of beneficiaries are families.

Federal housing programs benefits the majority of HPHA residents. 63% of the public housing beneficiaries are families under federal programs.  21% are elderly under federal programs.

Rental Assistance

There is an increased federal support. Subsidy programs at HPHA have increased - as of July 2021, HPHA has provided rental assistance to over 6,000 families.
families housed with rental assistance by HPHA
housing choice vouchers distributed.

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formerly known as Section 8, is a HUD program established to provide rental subsidies for units.  HCV is the largest subsidy program on Oahu.

280 rental supplements issued.

HPHA and the State of Hawai‘i provides Rent Supplements to help eligible families pay part of their monthly rent.

veteran vouchers distributed.

HPHA participates in VASH, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, a program that combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

languages translated.

HPHA ensures the programs and activities operate according to Federal and State requirements, agency policies, fair housing laws and regulations. In the past years HPHA has improved language accessibility for limited English proficient program participants and worked to provide written translations of vital documents in different languages.

5-Year Projection for New Housing

HPHA plans to redevelop 2,655 units within the next 5 years planned across all small, medium, and large developments.
units planned for redevelopment
small units planned for redevelopment.

Small unit redevelopments are defined as having between 1 and 50 units. Kalaeloa is current the only development under redevelopment.

medium units planned for redevelopment.

Medium unit redevelopments are defined as having between 51 and 200 units. Locations include the units in Maui county (305 units), Kaua‘i county (325 units), and Hawai‘i county (125 units).

large units planned for redevelopment.

Large unit redevelopments are defined as having 201 units and above. These include School Street (800 senior units), Mayor Wright Homes (2450 units). KPT (500 units), and Waipahu’s Ho‘olulu & Kamalu (1000 units).

planned at the start of construction.

HPHA plans to begin construction of redevelopments within the next 5 years with 2,655 units.