$790,000 Gift establishes HCRC Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing

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February 21, 2017

$790,000 Gift establishes HCRC Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing

Photo Caption L-R: Members of the HCRC board. Roy Katsuda, Executive Director, Hale Mahaolu, Keith Kato, Executive Director, Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation, David Kamimura, Executive Vice President, Finance Factors, Ltd., Heather Piper, Executive Director, HCRC, Bryan Luke, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hawaii National Bank (HCRC Board Chair), Darren Ueki, Finance Branch Manager, Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation, Sharlene Tsuda, Vice President, The Queen's Health Systems, Ralph Mesick, Executive Vice President, First Hawaiian Bank

HONOLULU – To help address the growing crisis of affordable housing in Hawaiʻi, the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation (HCRC) has donated $790,000 to establish the HCRC Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing. This endowment supports the establishment of a professorship in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

According to Zumper National Rent Report, an analysis of rental data from over 1 million active listings across the U.S., Hawai‘i’s affordable housing crisis continues to grow. While cities such as San Francisco and New York have seen median rent for two-bedrooms decline by 2.6 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, from a year ago, Honolulu rose by 7.2 percent. Median monthly rent for a two-bedroom in Honolulu is estimated to be $2,390.

“We are very grateful to the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation for creating this endowment to help us build greater expertise in a complex area so critical to Hawai‘i’s future” said David Lassner, UH President and Interim UH Mānoa Chancellor.  “Philanthropic partnerships like this are essential for UH to fully leverage our capacity for the benefit of all who call Hawai‘i home.”

“Given how important affordable housing is to Hawai‘i’s socio-economic health and future, we are very grateful to HCRC for establishing this fund. With this gift we will be able to recruit and retain faculty of the highest caliber to teach and conduct research in housing policy and planning with a focus on affordability for those of low and moderate incomes,” said Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa. “This professorship will provide tangible, lasting benefits to Hawai‘i as the recipient will provide independent thought and leadership on affordable housing topics to be shared with policy makers on the local and state levels.”

Heather Piper, president, Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation added, “As a nonprofit with a mission that is integrally linked to the creation of affordable housing, we saw a need for objective, neutral thought leadership focused on the sometimes polarizing topic of affordable housing in Hawai‘i. We are thankful to the local financial institutions, our board of directors, and volunteers who have helped us over the years and put us in the position to make this contribution to UH.  We are optimistic that our investment in this endowment will ensure that critical research and recommendations around affordable housing take place now, and in the years ahead.”

The goal of the HCRC Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing is to deepen understanding of the affordable housing issue and develop innovative, effective policy and programmatic alternatives. The projected benefits include:

  • Training a new generation of housing practitioners dedicated to developing affordable housing and affordable housing policy;
  • Establishing a robust research agenda focused on identifying and evaluating ways to increase housing affordability, particularly those suitable for the state; and
  • Disseminating research findings to policymakers, stakeholders and the general public to increase awareness and understanding of the nature of the problem and potential solutions.

“We are very grateful to the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation for their generous gift.  The need for expertise on this topic is tremendous. The Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing can help us think creatively about how we can increase Hawai‘i’s affordable housing stock in such a challenging market environment,” said Karen Umemoto, chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Department.

“UHERO estimates that Hawai‘i is 48th in the country in housing per capita, and we will need to build a total of 80,000 units by 2025 to eliminate one of the nation’s worst housing shortages.  With the HCRC gift, we have an amazing opportunity to grow and sustain UHERO’s research and outreach to help address Hawai‘i’s housing crisis,” added Carl Bonham, UHERO executive director and Economics professor.

The HCRC is a community-based nonprofit corporation founded in 1990. It is a statewide financial intermediary for affordable housing developers, community development organizations and small businesses. HCRC is designated a Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Entity, and has been providing below market interest rate loans. Its mission is to provide innovative financing, training, and consulting services to public and private organizations who engage in building livable communities in Hawai'i. It seeks to accomplish its mission by facilitating affordable housing, community development, community development facilities and economic development statewide.

Goal of $1 Million

HCRC and the College are raising additional funds to bring the endowment to $1 million to support research, teaching and policy engagement activities. To make a gift please contact Executive Director of Development, UH Mānoa (Social Sciences) Matt Henry at (808) 956-6701 or matt.henry@UHFoundation.org.  You can also Make a Gift now.


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