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  • $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 [email protected].  You can also make a gift now.

FOR UH • FOR HAWAIʻI, The Campaign for the University of Hawaiʻi, is focused on raising $1 billion to support UH priorities on all 10 campuses across the state, including student success; research that matters; kuleana to Native Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi; sustainability, resilience and conservation; innovation and entrepreneurship; building Hawaiʻi’s workforce; and engaging our community. Learn more at

Questions? / More Information

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808-956-8700 or send us a message.

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Marked by leadership, excellence and innovation, the College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa provides students with a culturally diverse experience that transforms them into bold, engaged global citizens who affect change, break down barriers, touch lives and succeed in a multi-cultural context. Its student-centered environment is dedicated to providing students with a vibrant academic climate that affords exciting, intense interaction among students and faculty as they address fundamental questions about human behavior. Featuring outstanding scholarship through internships, active and service learning approaches to teaching, and an international focus particularly in the Asia Pacific region, it prepares students to become leaders in public and private enterprises throughout Hawai‘i and Asia.

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences brings together a diverse faculty and student body from across the world for innovative research and a unique learning environment in the Asia Pacific Region that fosters practical solutions for critical global and local issues through planning, public policy and social collaboration. Responding to the global need for cooperative responses to environmental crises, resource scarcities and socio-political conflicts, DURP takes a visionary “whole society” approach to planning and works with various partners to deepen social and human understanding with the aim of increasing resilience, sustainability and quality of life for all.

UHERO conducts rigorous, independent economic research on issues that are both central to Hawai‘i and globally relevant. It distributes its analysis widely to promote research driven dialogue and inform public- and private-sector decision making in Hawai‘i. UHERO is part of the Social Science Research Institute in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences.

The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.