Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rep Shimabukuro responds on homeless shelter controversy

In response to recent news stories questioning why the legislature did not fund $20 million for a permanent homeless shelter to replace the temporary Next Step shelter in Kakaako, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, the chair of the House Human Services and Housing Committee, offered the following perspective, and indicated the kind of information that would be helpful.

"It would be very irresponsible for the legislature to fund any request without getting details on a project," said Rep. Shimabukuro. "That's what happened with the homeless shelter funding request. The administration wanted us to approve $20 million without telling us where the shelter would be located, how much it was going to cost, how long it would take to build, how it would be managed, how it would impact the community, and any short term or long term plan."

The legislature has asked the administration to come back with specific information when they are ready. At the very least, here are some factors that should be included:

*The location. Building a permanent homeless shelter may be inappropriate in some areas, and neighbors and residents may have concerns or objections. You need to provide the community with the opportunity to weigh in if the shelter is going to have an impact on them or their neighborhood.

*The estimated cost. For obvious reasons, we can't appropriate $20 million without knowing what the project is going to cost. Where did they get the figure of $20 million, and on what is that based?

*A short term and long term management plan, an operations plan, and the annual cost to operate the facility.

*Information on a homeless shelter of this capacity.

*A clear plan to determine where the Next Step residents would go during construction of a new facility.

In 2006 and 2007, the Governor used her emergency powers to build homeless shelters in Kakaako and Waianae respectively. The legislature passed SB2828, a bill that would have required the Governor to present one additional finding that the situation was a true emergency which could not be resolved through normal procedures, especially in light of the fact that permitting and environmental review requirements are waived for emergency projects. The Governor vetoed the bill. The legislature did not override her veto.

"Given the importance of proper permitting and environmental review, I hope the Governor will consider the concerns that were raised in the bill," said Rep. Shimabukuro.

Following is a listing bills and funding that were passed by the legislature related to affordable housing and homelessness issues.

2008 Legislation
HB2238 – Relating to Public Housing. Requires that all public housing projects funded by the state and/or county remain affordable in perpetuity.

HB2511 – Relating to Rental Assistance. Provides qualified rental housing assistance applicants up to 90 days to find qualified rental housing.

HB3140 – Emergency Appropriation for Hawaii Public Housing Authority. Emergency appropriation to repay a loan to the Department of Budget and Finance to cover risk management and liability costs, as well as to cover a shortfall for operations in this fiscal year.

SB2293 – Relating to Affordable Housing. Exempts new multi-family housing developments of 75 units or more from certain state and county affordable housing requirements.

SB3174 – Relating to Affordable Housing. Increases the Hula Mae bond authorization from $400 million to $500 million.

2008 Funding:
$15 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds for the Rental Housing Trust Fund
$10 million in GO bonds for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund
$1.4 million GO bonds for Kaloko Housing on the Big Island
$3.8 million in general funds for operational expenses at other shelters on Oahu
$26 million in GO bonds for Kukui Gardens Rental Housing complex
$16.4 million in repair and maintenance for public housing projects statewide

No comments: