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Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Pine: Cut Blaisdell to Fund Medical Care
By Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine @ 1:27 PM :: 2387 Views :: Honolulu County

Councilmember Kym Pine redrafts City budget to address COVID-19 pandemic and homelessness

News Release from Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine, March 23, 2020

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I — Honolulu City Councilmembers submitted proposed amendments to the budget proposed by the Mayor’s Administration for Fiscal Year 2021 on Friday.

“With people losing their jobs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has to double-down on its efforts to spend responsibly and keep residents healthy,” said Pine.

“The City needs to cut back on expenses so our economy can recover from the impacts of  the COVID-19 virus, so I recommended $80 million in cuts to the City operating budget. I instead recommended we reprioritize health, safety and reduction of homelessness. My budget includes $71 million in capital improvement funds (CIP) and almost $30 million in operating funds to enhance critical services, like refuse collection, parks maintenance, emergency services, life safety and community services. City staff needs more tools to address pandemics, addiction recovery, mental health concerns and homelessness. My policies would increase staffing and capacity at refuse collection sites, increase parks staff, deter illegal dumping and vandalism, implement innovative sustainable practices like four-day, 40-hour work weeks for certain city employees and add city staff that prioritizes sustainable, eco-conscious tourism,” said Pine.

“I replaced CIP funding for renovations and improvements to the Blaisdell Center and Ala Moana Park with funding for rapid housing, mobile hygiene centers, addiction rehabilitation facilities, mental health treatment facilities and quarantine and medical triage facilities. Now is certainly not the time for ‘nice-to-have’ projects. It is time to focus on essential services that support community health and safety above all,” said Pine.

Councilmember Kym Pine represents residents of District One (ʻEwa, ʻEwa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko ʻOlina, Nānākuli, Mā‘ili, Wai‘anae, Mākaha, Kea‘au, Mākua) and is chair of the City Council’s Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism.

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Caldwell Refuses to Spend More to Reduce Homelessness

CB March 24, 2020: … As Oahu continues to struggle with one of the worst rates of homelessness in the nation, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s final budget proposal as mayor includes little new funding to tackle the problem. 

City officials said they’re doing all they can to provide services that include housing vouchers, outreach and hygiene centers.

“We don’t have any increases this year,” said Honolulu Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland. “It’s sustaining all these programs.”

While Witty-Oakland said the city increased operational funding to address homelessness throughout Caldwell’s tenure from practically zero to $10 million, that’s a drop in the bucket of the city’s nearly $3 billion proposed operating budget. It represents one third of one percent. By comparison, the administration budgeted four times that – nearly $40 million – for vacant positions. 

In Caldwell’s capital proposal, human services represent 0.8% of the nearly $1.3 billion budget. That’s about $10 million.

“We haven’t been doing enough,” said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. “We’ve got to take care of the people who are living on our streets.”

City officials said if they’re going to increase housing funds, the state needs to boost its financial support of mental and behavioral health services. 

“It’s our professional opinion that unless we layer in the health care, we will not be responsibly spending that tax dollar on behalf of the community,” Witty-Oakland said….

read … Honolulu’s Spending On Homeless Stagnates Even As Problem Persists

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