Mayor Caldwell announces homeless action plan
News Release from City and County of Honolulu
Waikiki – On Wednesday, June 19, Mayor Kirk Caldwell was joined by top city officials and community leaders at the new “Waikiki Grass Shack Bistro” as he announced the city’s plan to address homelessness on O‘ahu.
Mayor Caldwell has made combatting homelessness a top priority and, following last week’s City Council adoption of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget which begins on July 1, 2014, the Department of Community Services will soon be able to begin the implementation of an ambitious plan to use a historically high amount of funding as expeditiously as possible to make a marked, immediate difference on Oahu’s homelessness crisis.
Managing Director Ember Shinn, Department of Community Services Director Pamela Witty-Oakland, Hawaii State Homelessness Coordinator Colin Kippen, and Institute for Human Services Executive Director Connie Mitchell joined Mayor Caldwell as he outlined proposals to help house Oahu’s unsheltered homeless families and individuals. U.S. Vets Housing First Coordinator Adam Quon introduced formerly homeless U.S. Marine Corps veteran Scott Charles Fox, who has been successfully housed through his organization’s Housing First for 16 months.
Housing First will first be implemented through $3 million in general funds that will go towards rental assistance ($1.32 million), supportive services ($1.43 million), and administrative expenses ($250,000) aimed at placing chronically homeless individuals and families in Waikiki, Chinatown, and Leeward O‘ahu. These funds will be available at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2014.
This rental assistance will complement the Department of Community Services, WorkHawaii Division’s Rent-to-Work program, which provides rental assistance and supportive services similar to Housing First, with a workforce development component included. Rent-to-Work was first implemented in 2009 and currently serves 89 previously homeless families and children at a cost of $1.3 million in FY14.
$8.2 million in Affordable Housing Fund money will be used to partner with private developers to acquire or renovate approximately 60 housing units in Chinatown, Waikiki, and Leeward O‘ahu to serve as Housing First units and affordable housing for those making 50% or below the area median income in perpetuity.
An additional $4 million in Affordable Housing Funds will be used to acquire and renovate existing units, or partner with private developers in existing or new construction of mixed-income properties in Waikiki to be used to house Housing First clients and those making 50% or below the area median income in perpetuity.
$32 million in General Obligation Bonds will be used to acquire and renovate 200 to 250 units to house Housing First clients and mixed-income families and individuals in Waikiki, Chinatown, and Leeward O‘ahu. These bonds will include $20 million in interest and the debt service will be paid off over twenty years. The money cannot be used for supportive services for the units’ future clients and can only be used for the acquisition or renovation of properties.
In addition to setting out a plan for housing our island’s homeless population, Mayor Caldwell was joined by Honolulu Police Department Chief Louis Kealoha, Department of Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura, Department of Parks and Recreation Director Michele Nekota, Waikiki Improvement Association President Rick Egged, and Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association President & CEO George Szigeti as he explained enforcement activities and proposed legislation designed to make public spaces accessible for all.
In calendar year 2013, the Stored Property Ordnance (SPO) and Sidewalk Nuisance Ordnance (SNO) were enforced on 81 days. That year, 198 SNO violations, 981 SPO removal notices, and 161 SPO storage/disposal notices were issued. More than 148 tons of items were disposed of, including 378 shopping carts. To date this year, the SNO and SPO were enforced on 48 days, with 258 SNO violations, 4 SPO removal notices, and 72 SPO storage/disposal notices issued, and 86 tons of items disposed.
The Honolulu Police Department has responded to community concerns and increased enforcement of existing laws in Waikiki. From January 1 through June 15 of this year, 799 citations were issued and 10 arrests made for park closure and illegal camping violations, 116 citations issued and 17 arrests made for liquor violations, 61 citations issued for living in a vehicle, 36 citations issued and 17 arrests made for peddling, and 111 citations issued for smoking in smoke-free areas.
Mayor Caldwell outlined proposed legislation to further equip the city and local businesses to ensure sidewalks and public places are safe, clean, and accessible to all. Bill 42 calls for the implementation of “sit-lie” measures that have been successfully adopted by a number of municipalities in the rest of the nation. Bill 43 would prohibit public urination and defecation, similar to a law in place in downtown Honolulu. Both bills would only apply to Waikiki and, potentially expanded to other areas across O‘ahu.
View press conference materials >>> HERE.
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