Housing Hawai'i evolved out of the National Conference on Affordable Housing in High-Cost Areas held in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai'i from November 29 - December 1, 2005. The conference brought together stakeholders and interested parties to discuss and develop real strategies to overcome barriers to affordable housing in high-cost areas. Hawai'i was the most fitting location for this conference. Hawai'i's homeownership rate is the 49th worst in the United States. With housing prices among the highest in the nation, housing is unaffordable for most working families. After attending two and a half days of presentations, attendees agreed to form an affordable housing coalition whose purpose will be to advocate for the preservation of existing affordable housing stock and the development of new affordable housing in Hawai'i. Soon after the conference, Housing Hawaii received its first cash contribution of $10,000.
The coalition first formed in December 2005 under the name of the Hawai'i Affordable Housing Coalition. During a meeting in January 2006, supporters agreed to rename the coalition Housing Hawai'i - because that's what the coalition is all about.