Honolulu Named Nation’s Most Difficult City to Build New Apartments

Study says new rental properties face greater barriers here than anywhere else.
Apartment buildings Honolulu
Photo: Thinkstock


A recent study commissioned by the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association named Honolulu the hardest city in which to build new apartments. The research, which studied 50 cities, looked at factors such as local regulations and amounts of land available for development to determine a “Barriers to Apartment Construction Index.”


On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Orleans was determined to be the easiest place to build new.


The report estimates that 4.6 million new apartments are needed by 2030 to keep up with growing population and demand for housing nationwide.


“The Honolulu metro area will need all types of apartments and at all price points,” says Norm Miller, principal at Hoyt Advisory Services and professor of real estate at the University of San Diego.


The National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association, made up of representatives of owners, developers and operators of multifamily rental housing, also released recommendations for policymakers to help them lower the barriers to development. The organizations advocate for private developers and government officials to come together to find ways to make development easier. In Honolulu, we face an estimated housing shortage of 3,500 units per year, according to economist Paul Brewbaker, although higher numbers are often estimated.


Read more about the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association’s take on Honolulu’s apartment demand at weareapartments.org/data/metro/honolulu.