About The Kaʻū Calendar

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Sunday, April 17, 2022

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is running for governor, calls the housing crisis a "state of emergency" and released a ten point plan
 this weekend to build more housing to solve the problem. He pointed to Kauhale  programs to construct tiny houses.
Photo from homeaidhawaii.org

THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS IS A TARGET OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE JOSH GREEN, in a plan he released this weekend. Green said, "Hawai'i’s housing crisis has reached a state of emergency." 
    He called it "an issue that impacts us all in some way, and touches almost every other major challenge we face as a state. No matter where I go across our islands, people tell me how our lack of affordable housing affects them, their families, and their communities.
    "I see the worry on people’s faces when they talk about housing, whether it’s a mother afraid her son will have to move to the mainland to find opportunity, or a teacher who can’t afford to stay in Hawai'i and keep doing the job she loves.
     Green pointed out that the statewide average cost of a single-family home now exceeds $1 million, "threatening to divide us permanently into two classes: those who can afford to own a home and those who can’t. Young people can’t afford to live on their own. Seeking a lower cost of living, many choose to
Tiny homes like these can be built on state and private land,
Hawaiian Home Lands, by non-profits and builders,
 said Green, promising to take on the housing
 crisis first day in office if elected to the governorship.
Photo from homeaidhawaii.org

leave the island where they grew up, and thousands more move to the mainland for good.
    "Essential workers including nurses and teachers either give up their struggle to find affordable housing and leave our state, or turn down opportunities to work in Hawai'i in the first place. Many working people in Hawai'i simply can’t afford a place to live, lack family support, and end up living in their car, in a tent, or on the street. Our housing crisis is costing us dearly, as we lose talented local people to the lower cost of living on the mainland, and we price ourselves out of the market to attract skilled workers."
     Green said the housing crisis, "also affects our state’s ability to deal with urgent issues like homelessness, the cost of living, education, access to healthcare, workforce shortages, Native Hawaiian concerns, economic inequality, and more. High housing costs put the greatest burden on low income families, often representing over 50% of their cost of living, while economic studies show that housing costs should not exceed 30% of a family’s income."
    He noted that Hawai'i suffers a chronic shortage of 1,200 teachers each year "as we struggle to retain qualified and experienced educators, mainly due to our high cost of living and unaffordable housing. People working in the hospitality and tourism industry often drive two hours or more every day to get to work and back, because they can’t find affordable housing closer to their jobs."
    In discussing the housing shortage among Native Hawaiians, Green pointed out that in 1920, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands was created to deliver land to Native Hawaiians for homesteading. "More than a century later, DHHL has more than 28,000 Native Hawaiians on its rolls while holding over 200,000 acres of unused land. Today, Native Hawaiians are twice as likely to become homeless in Hawaii, a disparity that is both unjust and cruelly ironic."
    He also targeted vacation rentals, saying "Tens of thousands of illegal vacation rentals and empty investor units flood our state, reducing the supply of affordable housing and inflating prices. Luxury developments consume land and infrastructure resources, and military housing allowances further impact supply.
    "We have reached a point of crisis, with a housing deficit that requires at least 50,000 new units for low and middle income families right now just to meet current demand and maintain our workforce. We must take action now and commit to a new era of building homes for the middle class, making it our top priority — Hawai'i’s version of a moon shot."
Lt. Gov. Josh Green has made it a practice to regular visit
homeless people, providing assistance and coming up with
a strategy for the housing crisis. Photo from ltgov.hawaii.gov
    After consulting with experts and stakeholders from across the state, Green said, he has put together a 10-point emergency plan to address the housing crisis and promised to start working on the problem "on day one of my administration" should he be elected. He said he would do the following:
    Enact an Emergency Housing Plan for Hawai'i and immediately issue an executive order to all state and county housing agencies to speed up construction of affordable housing by eliminating red tape, streamlining processes and approvals, and coordinating efforts to address the crisis.
     Green said he would make housing for Hawai'i residents the top priority by aggressively enforcing existing laws "to shut down the 25,000 illegal vacation rentals across the state, taxing the 35,000 vacant investor units, and limiting permits and increasing taxes on new luxury developments by out of state investors."
      He promised to create a Path to Home Ownership for first-time home buyers and essential workers with a new state-subsidized loan program, including financial education and assistance to help navigate the home buying process.
    He promised to create an Office of Emergency Housing to serve as a “one stop shop” to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and provide faster services and approvals.
    He promised to use vacant state lands to build affordable homes and rentals with federal, state, and private partnerships.
    He promised to continue to increase the rental housing revolving fund, increase the low income housing tax credit, and create new deductions and incentives for long term rentals to low and middle income families.
Candidate Green said, as governor, he would direct Department of 
Hawaiian Home Lands to to deliver land immediately to Native
Hawaiian beneficiaries for homesteading.
    Regarding the native Hawaiian community, Green said he would direct Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to deliver land immediately to Native Hawaiian beneficiaries for homesteading, and to work with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to build housing for Native Hawaiians.
   Regarding homelessness, he promised to reduce it by building kauhale housing villages and funding new programs, services, and incentives such as vouchers to house the homeless.
   Green said he would work with the counties to lower the costs of building affordable housing by addressing water, sewer, park, and other fees as well as zoning and exaction requirements, all while maintaining environmental protections.
   He also vowed to work with Hawai'i’s Congressional delegation to increase federal housing voucher funding, homeless funding, infrastructure funding, and a bond cap increase to build housing.
    "We must also reach out to our construction industry, labor unions, the U.S. military, and every other major employer and stakeholder in Hawai'i to bring to bear their expertise, manpower, and capital to aid in this effort," said Green. "We will partner with developers across the state to build tens of thousands of new units of affordable housing, which will in turn create new jobs, build our communities, and grow our economy.
    "Our housing crisis will likely continue to be the most challenging issue we face in the coming years. It will be crucially important that our next governor comes into office with the trust, credibility, and the strongest possible plan to take on this challenge."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/.See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano

A HOME ON KOA LANE WAS FULLY ENGULFED IN FLAMES on Sunday, according to a report from the Hawai'i Fire Department. The report says the call came at 9:37 a.m. and the fire was extinguished by 12:15 p.m. The damage to the 1,600 square ft. home is valued at $150,000.  The structure collapsed. The resident was not at home and no one was injured, according to the report. Fourteen members of HFD responded along with three volunteer firefighters. 

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/.See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano

State Rep. Jeanne Kapela released a message on Easter Day. Photo from Kapela

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JEANNE KAPELA, who serves Kaʻū into Kona, released an Easter Day message. It says, "At this time of year, we are steeped in images of renewal. Spring flowers are in bloom. Children are searching for colored eggs in their yards. Families are gathering around their dinner tables to rekindle their bonds of love.
    "Yet, many of our neighbors are left out of those pictures. Too many parents can't afford to make candy-filled baskets for their keiki because of the soaring cost of groceries. Too many people in our community are living in financial insecurity, unsure if they will be able to pay next month's rent.
    "We can do better. For the most vulnerable among us, we need to create a society that is based on compassion, not competition. That is why I am working tirelessly to expand tax breaks for working families, strengthen food security by investing in regenerative agriculture, and guarantee all workers a living wage of at least $18/hour and paid sick and family leave.
    "This is the season of restoration. In that spirit, let's revive hope for those less fortunate than ourselves. And let's deliver prosperity not just to a privileged few, but to all who call our islands home."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/.See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano

See The Ka'u Calendar April edition at 
on newsstands and in the mail.