(BIVN) – Hawai‘i Island State Senator Josh Green spoke from the chamber floor Tuesday in favor of a bill establishing the Ohana Zones Pilot Program to help with the Hawai‘i homeless crisis.
Senator Green was one of the introducers of SB2401 SD2 HD1 CD1, which allocates $30 million for ‘Ohana Zones (three O‘ahu sites, and one each on Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i Island), $1 million for an Emergency Department Assessment pilot program, and $1 million for a Medical Respite Pilot Program. $400,000 will also be appropriated for two new Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs on Maui and Hawai‘i Island.
The bill passed both the House and the Senate on Tuesday on final reading after conference committee.
Other bills dealing with homelessness and affordable housing were also passed at the legislature. The senate summarized:
In addressing homelessness and affordable housing, the State Budget, HB1900 HD1 SD1 CD1, provides $15 million to fund homeless programs and services such as Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing, and Family Assessment Centers. HB2748 HD2 SD2 CD1 provides an unprecedented total of $200 million into the Rental Housing Trust Fund (RHTF), to generate approximately 1,600 affordable rental housing units for families at or below 80 percent AMI; appropriates $10 million into the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund (DURF) for interim construction financing of affordable housing project; and appropriates $50,000 to prepare an assessment of housing needs for persons with low or no income. Additionally, HB2748 expands the general excise tax exemption for construction of 24,000 affordable rental units for families at or below 140 percent AMI. The exemption will increase from $7 million (enacted in 2017) to $30 million per year and will be extended from 2022 to 2030. This exemption is valued at $360 million over 12 years. SB2401 SD2 HD1 CD1 and SB2027 SD2 HD1 CD1 provide a total of $34.7 million to fund Ohana Zones and support medical services for the homeless statewide.
The House says total funding of $50 million was appropriated for homeless support, including $15 million in the budget to fund homeless services and $1 million for matching funds to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority for homeless related projects in resort areas.