Presentation Ceremony Participants: The REIT Way Hawaii representatives Scott Creel, Senior Marketing Manager of Ala Moana Center (Brookfield Properties Retail Group); Breana Grosz, Marketing & Sponsorship Director of International Market Place (Taubman Centers, Inc.); Michael Jokovich, Area Vice President Hawaii for Hyatt Hotels (Host Hotels and Resorts); and Pamela R. Wilson, General Manager Hawaiian Real Estate, American Assets Trust at the launch of its community giving campaign on Nov. 15, 2018. aio Foundation's founder Duane Kurisu (center) accepted on behalf of Kahauiki Village.

REITs chip in to help Hawaii affordable housing

By Andrew Gomes, Honolulu Star-Advertiser

November 15, 2018 

Some of Hawaii’s biggest commercial real estate owners have established a new charitable campaign to bolster affordable housing in the state.

A group of 13 real estate investment trusts, all based outside the state, have committed giving a combined $455,000 in the first year of a minimum 3-year campaign.

The group is seeking grant applications from local nonprofits that contribute to affordable-­housing growth, and are scheduled to make an initial gift today — a $100,000 award to the aio Foundation’s Kahauiki Village housing project alongside Keehi Lagoon for homeless families with children.

The campaign dubbed The REIT Way Hawaii is being run through the Nareit Foundation, a nonprofit charitable giving organization for the national trade association for real estate investment trusts, or REITs.

Applications are due by Dec. 15 and must be submitted through thereitwayhawaii.com.

The 13 REITs all own property in Hawaii, mostly hotels and shopping centers. They include the owners of Ala Moana Center (Brookfield Properties), International Market Place (Taubman Centers Inc.), Hilton hotels (Park Hotels & Resorts) and Hyatt hotels (Host Hotels & Resorts).

Over the past few years, REITs doing business in Hawaii have been assailed by some traditional local real estate companies as being bad corporate citizens because of their tax status, and the Legislature has entertained but not passed bills that would impose state income taxes on these REITs.

REITs enjoy a federal income tax break that exists because such companies must pass at least 90 percent of their profits to shareholders who then pay taxes on the income in whichever state they live. Nearly every state mirrors the federal tax treatment for state income taxes.