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Monday, January 23, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

Gov. Josh Green released this photo with his wife Jaime and his first State of the State speech on Monday,
which he presented to the Hawai'i Legislature, seeking approval for his plans and budget. Photo from Josh Green

ACTION ROOTED IN VALUES IS THE TITLE OF GOV. JOSH GREEN'S FIRST STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS. He delivered it Monday morning before the Hawai'i Legislature, where he seeks approval. It was carried live on his facebook. During the 50-minute speech, the governor, who started out his medical career working in Ka'u, promised expansion of Intensive Care Unit and medical surgical units at Ka'u Hospital's sister facility Hilo Medical Center through a $50 million Capital Improvement Program.

Green also declared homelessness an official emergency, signing the proclamation at the podium during his speech and said a Kauhale, a village for homeless people, will be built at the Kukuiola Emergency Shelter and Assessment Center in Kailua-Kona and that each unit would only cost $8,000.

    He also proposed spending more than $1 billion on housing statewide. The governor also offered state income tax breaks for almost every family.
     Here is the written version of the State of the State provided by the governor's office:
    It’s a great honor to stand before you and address you as your governor. This is more than just an update on our progress as a state.This is our beginning, our huliau — a moment to share our vision and our values. Over the past few years, we have come through enormous challenges together. We endured a once in a century pandemic that impacted our way of life, threatened our economy, and robbed us of too many precious lives.
    We wrestled with a housing crisis that forced too many of our people out of our state in search of economic opportunity and more affordable homes. We witnessed the risks and consequences of an economy too heavily dependent on tourism alone. And we suffered environmental threats both from pollution and from the effects of global climate change. But even in our darkest and most painful moments, Hawai‘i’s values shone through, the character and soul of our people prevailed, and we found a new dawn of hope.
An example of tiny houses in Kauhale, villages for homeless people, as addressed in Gov. Josh Green's State of the State
speech on Monday. These are in East Hawai'i and Green announced a new Kauhale for Kona.
Photo from homelessnesshawaii.gov

    Through these difficult times, we showed that when we stand together, when we put our values into action, we can meet any challenge and overcome any problem, no matter how large or difficult it seems.
    Our new administration will take on: housing, environment, tourism, homelessness, poverty, and economic opportunity in our islands.
    The people of Hawai‘i have elected us to lead, and given us a clear mandate to act on their behalf, following our common values. It’s time for us to move Hawai‘i forward — and we will do it by taking bold action rooted in these shared values.
    UNITY:  Gov John A. Burns said it best: “In diversity, there can be unity. In division, there is schism.”
Gov. Josh Green quoted the late Gov. John
A Burns during his State of the State Speech
on Monday. Image from Burns' biography
Hawai‘i is one ‘ohana — one family — and this is one of our most important values and greatest strengths. In its essence, ‘ohana is a commitment to each other with aloha, respect and appreciation for our diversity, and tolerance of our differences, all in service for the greater good. It allows all of us to benefit from the different cultures, perspectives, and lived experiences of every community in our state, and to forge a single unity of purpose out of the most diverse population imaginable.
    We will unite and bring all of our strengths to bear on the urgent issues we face. This will be one of my most important responsibilities as governor — to bring people together, unite us as one ‘ohana, and always remind us that we are stronger together and we can accomplish anything when we share a common purpose.
    A MANDATE FOR BOLD ACTION: The preamble to Hawai‘i’s constitution holds that “we reserve the right to control our destiny, to nurture the integrity of our people and culture, and to preserve the quality of life that we desire.” It is not only our right, but our kuleana — our responsibility — to take action to control our destiny and preserve our quality of life. Our constitution gives us that right, and the people of Hawai‘i have given us this mandate and imperative as their elected leaders.
    Today we need new ideas, new solutions — and bold action rooted in our shared values. Business as usual won’t work anymore — there is simply too much on the line to accept the status quo. Each day without action means another family forced to move to the mainland, another child sleeping on the street, another local business closing, and another precious natural resource put at risk.
    Each day without action means we miss another opportunity to heal Hawai’i, do what is right and just, and preserve our islands for future generations. My administration has already begun to act with urgency since day one. Our state motto says so powerfully — “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” — and this is the moment for righteous, bold action rooted in our common values.
    So I ask everyone here to say YES to the wisdom guiding us in our constitution, in our motto, and in the mandate the people have given us. Say YES to new ideas and solutions, and to putting our values into action. YES, we can achieve our goals. YES, we can overcome our challenges. YES, we can make a difference in our communities and in the lives of the most vulnerable.
    We say: YES to more housing.YES to more jobs and opportunities for our residents. YES to leading the world on renewable energy. YES to lowering the cost of living. And, YES to governing ethically.
    We owe the people of Hawai‘i an effective government that takes action. If we accept our kuleana, follow the mandate we have been given, and take action rooted in our common values, we will show the people of our state that we are working for them, and that they can believe in their government again.
Gov. Josh Green released $50 million to more than 180 non-profit organizations in December and
mentioned it during his his State of the State speech on Monday. Photo from Green

    WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR: Today is Day 49 of our Administration. We’ve had a little more than 1,000 hours on the job, and we’ve already accomplished a great deal in this short time: We nominated a cabinet of qualified public servants, led by my Chief of Staff, Brooke Wilson. 
    We showed respect to our public workers with administrative leave during the holiday season, a move which also supporting local spending and our small businesses. We’ve announced a new Educator Tax Credit, so that our teachers can receive a $500 credit to support our students. We released $50 million in Grants-in-Aid to directly support our non-profit and service providers for the critical work they do in our communities. We’ve proposed a Climate Impact Fund of $100 million to fight climate change.
    We’ve announced the return of over 363 acres to the Hawaiian Homes Commission on Molokai for beneficiaries.We’ve signed an agreement with Haneda Airport to streamline travel and promote made in Hawaiʻi products and even improve our Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
     We took immediate action to prevent disruption in health care service to our rural communities following the Hawai‘i Life Flight tragedy — saving lives along the way.
    This is an administration that attacks problems. Now is the time to invest in our people and our communities. With this in mind, I will identify several of the priorities our legislature and administration must act-on to move our Hawai‘i forward.
    BUDGET AND LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES: I take to heart the priorities the legislature advanced on opening day. Our budget will reflect those priorities. We are adding and emphasizing several high priority items related to housing, homelessness, the cost of living, climate, environment, and mental health.
    Some important specific items in the financial plan include:
    Additional ‘Ohana zones funds, which put homeless individuals into permanent housing to give them a chance to thrive. More resources for the Hawai‘i State Loan Repayment Program to help pay off educational loans for primary care and behavioral health providers, so that Hawai‘i remains the health state for generations to come — this investment will address our statewide healthcare provider shortage once-and-for-all. Over 60 new positions to expand nursing and medical programs across our UH campuses, with a special emphasis on behavioral health. The expansion of ICU and medical surgical units at Hilo Medical Center with $50 million in CIP funds.
    The firm establishment of the Office of Wellness & Resilience within the Governor’s Office, to focus on trauma informed care. A concerted push to protect our natural environment. Adding critical mental health resources for our schools and our communities. Supporting our state’s priority to make pre-K universally available to Hawai‘i’s families, led by my Lieutenant Governor, whom I think some of you know.
     Since my inauguration last month, I've been meeting with departments and agencies to insist we break barriers and open doors in the halls of government.
    AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The biggest factor affecting the cost of living in our state is affordable housing. Safe, affordable, and stable housing is a human right, and it is more than just a place to live — it impacts our health, our identity, and sense of belonging. Our housing crisis is not new. All the way back on May 15, 1935, the Eighteenth Territorial Legislature created the Hawai‘i Housing Authority, the first body in our islands’ history dedicated to addressing the housing needs of our people. Nearly nine decades later, we are still working to provide housing for all of our state. When Governor Burns signed Act 105 into law on June 19, 1970, state government initiated housing and community development on a scale unprecedented in Hawai‘i history. We must now return to an era of bold action on housing. We need a comprehensive approach to housing that addresses all segments of the population, from renters to low-to-moderate income individuals and families, to those experiencing homelessness. That is why my administration is making housing our top priority, and committing to a comprehensive housing agenda.
    Developing infrastructure for the state is a crucial component to adequate housing. We need to start from the ground up to make sure infrastructure is built so that affordable housing can be expedited. We must also address and improve policies and processes that can impede the development of housing.
    But we can’t do this alone — we need a coordinated approach with the counties and stakeholdersWe also need to make big investments. That is why I am now proposing over 1 billion dollars of new investment in housing. These funds will be used to support major investments in the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority to renovate and upgrade public housing units, to provide state rental subsidies to low-income families, and to boost financing for more affordable housing units through the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.
    We will also deliver on the legislature’s commitment to fund the Department of Hawaiian Homelands — this is a priority for our administration.
    We will propose a state match for a city affordable housing program, which will incentivize the development of more affordable housing units in urban Honolulu. Mayor Blangiardi and I are already partnering on our approach to housing because the crisis is felt most intensely on O‘ahu.
    I will partner with all of our mayors, and regularly convene stakeholders so we can troubleshoot and streamline processes to speed up housing projects across the state.
    We’ve got to cut the red tape now so we can provide the housing we need as soon as possible. This will likely require emergency action.
    HOMELESS COMMUNITIES: We can’t forget about our unhoused communities. In the past, efforts to address homelessness have often emphasized enforcement and triage, pushing people out of one neighborhood and into another, moving people from street to shelter or temporary housing, with many finding themselves back where they started. We have made progress at getting people into homes in recent years, but the number of people on the street (those experiencing “unsheltered” homelessness) continues to rise. We need to shift our efforts from temporary fixes to permanent solutions. We need houses immediately. Homelessness should not be accepted as normal in our society. It shouldn’t be normal to avert our eyes from the suffering of another human being.
Gov. Josh Green highlighted his efforts to reduce homelessness during
 his term as Lieutenant Governor and his campaign for Governor. He declared it
 a state of emergency during his State of the State speech on Monday.
Photo from Josh Green
    We shouldn’t ever need to avoid our public places because homeless citizens have overwhelmed a park or street sidewalk. We have come to accept the silent suffering of the thousands on our streets, in our parks, along our beaches, even here on the grounds of the State Capitol. Our homeless crisis is a strain on our aloha and a threat to our spirit. That is why we are committed to the development of twelve new Kauhale across our state, which are villages made-up of tiny homes. Soon, Hawai‘i Island will break ground on a new neighbor island Kauhale at the Kukuiola Emergency Shelter and Assessment Center in Kailua-Kona. With sixty-four units, this new Kauhale will meet the housing, social, and healthcare needs of its future residents for years to come—all at a cost of approximately $8,000 per unit, about $500,000 in total.
    It costs $322,000 a year to support a person suffering with mental illness in the Hawai‘i State Hospital.
For less than the cost of keeping two people in such a hospital for one year, we can build an entire community of low-cost, permanent housing. Building Kauhale communities takes time, energy, planning, people, and passion. It also takes conviction — a commitment to breaking from the status quo.
    Twinkle Borge and Blanche McMillan — just two names among many — are showing that it takes the embrace of a village to help people find their way to a permanent home. Our Kauhale Initiative will follow their example, creating low-footprint, low-cost housing, with a village environment designed for common support, healing, and progress. As long as we are in a housing crisis, we will treat it like an emergency.
    So I am taking action NOW to address the homeless crisis in all its forms. In my hand is an emergency proclamation on homelessness. It goes into effect today. This emergency proclamation streamlines the construction process for housing, removing unnecessary red tape and enabling our community partners to tackle homelessness and the housing shortage head-on. 
   "A copy of this proclamation will be delivered to your offices now," he told the state legislators.
    See the rest of the governor's speech in Tuesday's Ka'u News Briefs.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

NA'ALEHU ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT COMMUNITY COUNCIL meetings are open to the public on the third Monday of each month at 2:30 p.m., in room 33, on the campus of Na'alehu Elementary School. The public can also attend on online through a link on the school website for those unable to attend in person. Learn about the school's Academic Plan, Financial Plan, Student Voice, upcoming events, and more. For questions or concerns, time is provided at the end of each meeting, With questions, also call 808-313-4000.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.
St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View. Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.

Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

'O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner of Kona Drive and Highway 11, where Thai Grindz is located. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no reservations needed. Parking in the upper lot only. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.

Ocean View Swap Meet at Ocean View makai shopping center, near Mālama Market. Hours for patrons are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Vendor set-up time is 5 a.m. Masks required.

The Book Shack is open every Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Kauaha'ao Congregational Church grounds at 95-1642 Pinao St. in Wai'ōhinu.