GOV. GREEN BUILDS FOUNDATION FOR THOUSANDS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS
Office of the Governor Press Release, Jul 17, 2023
HONOLULU — Governor Josh Green, M.D., today signed the much-anticipated Emergency Proclamation on Housing (EP) that will accelerate relief from the statewide housing crisis. The EP will speed the safe construction of thousands of critically needed, public, low-income, affordable, workforce, and market-rate for-sale and rental units for Hawaiʻi residents across the state, while ensuring careful stewardship of the land and all it holds. Chief Housing Officer Nani Medeiros served as lead on the plan, thoughtfully crafting it with constant input from Governor Green, as well as state, city, and community partners.
“We have suffered the effects of the critical ̶ and growing ̶ housing crisis for far too long. We have a teacher shortage because of it. We have a shortage of healthcare workers because of it – and because of it, more native Hawaiians now live on the continent, than in our islands,” said Governor Green. “Today, we embark upon bold action to streamline processes for creating thousands of affordable housing units, while ensuring respect for iwi kūpuna and our environment,” Governor Green said.
The EP will establish a working group to improve the coordination of state and county agencies and ensure housing projects keep on schedule. It will streamline processes for housing development, while ensuring respect for our iwi kūpuna and environment. The historic proclamation also will provide flexibility to direct resources to our state and county agencies to accelerate plan reviews.
“The proclamation enables more efficient collaboration as we break down silos to work hand-in-hand, across agencies, across government jurisdictions, with partners who are ready, willing and able to step up to help generations of the people of Hawai‘i continue to live in the islands they love, and that benefits all of us,” Governor Green said.
Efforts by Chief Housing Officer Medeiros included input from more than 200 people across a spectrum of stakeholders. “We know that a plan of this statewide scope requires conversations with various sectors of the community. We had maybe over 400 meetings with grassroots groups, housing builders, industry partners, and government process owners to be part of the discussion from the beginning, to create processes that prioritize housing for generations of our keiki and their keiki,” Medeiros said.
The Governor’s emergency proclamation directs all state agencies to prioritize housing reviews, plans, approvals, and permit processing. It also means additional state resources will be directed to address the affordable housing crisis.
At a news conference to unveil the EP, several officials spoke on the importance of this significant milepost in Hawai‘i history.
“As Mayor, I fully support the Governor’s emergency proclamation for housing. It is a necessary step to address the urgent crisis facing our community,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “Our goal is to provide access to safe, affordable housing for every resident, and this emergency proclamation will allow us to mobilize needed resources and implement the necessary measures. This proclamation sends a clear message that we are committed to finding solutions and taking action to alleviate the housing challenges our city is experiencing.”
“I’d like to thank Governor Green for his leadership on a critical need affecting our islands,” said Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen. “The housing crisis has caused our people a degree of hardship unseen in our contemporary history. When we make more homes available for our kamaʻāina, we’re offering a sense of belonging, security, and dignity our people rightfully deserve. We’re building more than homes – we’re building communities.”
“Housing our local families is our administration’s top priority as we strive to forge a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can raise their keiki for generations,” said Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth. “We’re honored to work alongside Governor Green, his team, and my fellow mayors to create a tool that will catalyze our efforts to alleviate the housing shortage and bring truly affordable housing to the market.”
“Addressing homelessness and our housing crisis takes a whole-community approach, one that cannot be solved by government alone,” said Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Every step toward a resolution, is a step forward in the right direction. That’s why we are grateful to Governor Green, his team, our fellow mayors and counties, and our communities statewide, for making this unified commitment which seeks to ensure that our residents are cared for, and offers our families hope for the future.”
“This emergency proclamation is one of the largest state-level housing actions anywhere in the country in years, if not decades, said Senator Stanley Chang, chair of the Senate Committee on Housing. “It will remove many significant barriers private developers face in building the housing Hawaiʻi’s people so desperately need. It also enables state and county agencies to develop low-cost housing for Hawaiʻi residents on government-owned land. Mahalo Governor Green for your fearless leadership on ending the housing shortage for all of Hawaiʻi’s people,” said Senator Chang, (District 9, Hawai‘i Kai, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Niu, ‘Āina Haina, Wai‘alae-Kāhala, Diamond Head, Kaimukī, Kapahulu).
“I commend both the Governor and the Chief Housing Officer for all of your work, and your entire team on your boldness in trying something different. It is my hope to see substantial progress in this space, because I think as everyone has mentioned, we truly are in a crisis and I commend the governor for taking this bold step forward ̶ and the legislature will be there with you to try and enact long-term change,” said Representative Hashimoto, (District 10, portion of Waiehu, Paukūkalo, Wailuku, Wailuku Heights, Waikapū).
“This EP is another bold action by Governor Green to facilitate the prompt delivery of new and much-needed affordable housing to our citizens. It complements the first homeless EP that has already resulted in, just for our agency alone, housing dozens of families,” said Hakim Ouansafi, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority. “I applaud the Governor and his team for crafting this, one-of-a-kind in the nation EP, that is a proactive and concrete action that I know will greatly help our agency to promptly deliver the more than 12,000 new units that the Governor announced on July 3, as well as help other agencies and private developers to expeditiously deliver housing to our citizens,” Ouansafi said.
“In line with the Governor’s proclamation, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands will swiftly adapt its strategies and plans to accelerate the provision of affordable housing opportunities for our beneficiaries,” said Director Kali Watson. “Our commitment to providing affordable, decent, and safe homes for native Hawaiians remains steadfast in the face of this crisis. We understand the urgent need for housing, and we will use every tool at our disposal to expedite processes, while ensuring the integrity of our program and the well-being of our beneficiaries.”
“The Housing Emergency Proclamation will expedite necessary affordable housing projects across the state by reducing regulatory barriers,” said Dean Minakami, interim executive director of the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp. “We commend Governor Green and Chief Housing Officer Nani Medeiros on executing the proclamation, a huge step forward as the state works to provide more housing opportunities for our kama‘āina.”
The Emergency Proclamation on Housing and additional digital assets are here.
Video and photos of today’s news conference are attributable to Office of the Governor.
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