(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green delivered his first State of the State Address on Monday, where he outlined several high priority items related to housing, homelessness, the cost of living, climate, environment, and mental health.
In the middle of the speech, Green stopped to sign an emergency proclamation to address Hawaiʻi’s homelessness crisis, pledging “to work collaboratively with federal and county agencies on measures to provide relief.”
“As long as we are in a housing crisis, we will treat it like an emergency,” said Gov. Green, right before signing the proclamation at the podium. “It goes into effect today,” Green said.
“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,” the Governor said. “A copy of this proclamation will be delivered to your offices now.”
The proclamation will allow for the expedited construction of 12 kauhale, or tiny village communities, that officials say “will provide shelter for un-housed people with minimal, if any, impact on the environment.”
The Kūkuiola project in Kona was mentioned in Green’s speech.
“Soon, Hawai‘i Island will break ground on a new neighbor island Kauhale at the Kūkuiola Emergency Shelter and Assessment Center in Kailua-Kona,” Green said. “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.”
There was another Big Island project that received a specific mention in Green’s speech. The governor says his financial plan includes $50 million for the expansion of the intensive care unit and medical surgical units at Hilo Medical Center.
Green also said he is proposing over $1 billion dollars of new investment in housing, touted his Green Affordability Plan to cuts taxes and provide “tax relief annually for the people that need it most”, and increase government transparency.
“We face enormous challenges as a state, and the strain of these challenges is slowly eroding the hopes and the dreams of our people,” Green concluded. “Thousands of families are voting with their feet, choosing to leave our islands in search of affordable housing and economic opportunity. Thousands more live in our streets, suffering without help, without hope, despairing for a better tomorrow. Climate change and industrial pollution threaten to permanently degrade our land and our water. These are tragedies we must not stand by and witness idly without doing everything in our power to change.”
Today’s speech was livestreamed by the ʻŌlelo Community Media Channel, local news outlets, the State Legislature channels, and on Green’s Facebook page.