Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lawmakers applaud governor for allowing Housing First legislation to become law

Representatives Rida Cabanilla, Chair of the House Housing Committee, and John Mizuno, Chair of the House Human Services Committee, today applauded Governor Linda Lingle for allowing HB2318 to become law.

The bill had been placed on the Governor's potential veto list on June 21, 2010. On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Governor Lingle officially vetoed 32 of 39 bills on the potential veto list. HB2318 was not vetoed and became law as Act 212 without the Governor’s signature.

"I wrote this bill to effectively address our chronically homeless -- those who suffer from mental illness and addiction and either cannot cope or are not accepted into our emergency or transitional shelters,” said Rep. Cabanilla. “The Housing First concept has been very effective as a cleanup tool in eight major cities. The target population is homeless who linger in streets, parks and major tourist hubs. It will help protect our pristine environment and tourist industry while providing stable housing for the chronically homeless. This is a business as well as a humane model in addressing Hawaii’s homeless problem."

HB2318, CD1 establishes the Housing First Program, which creates a permanent residence for the chronically homeless, providing them with a stable housing environment that promotes wellness and therapeutic success. The bill will also allow the Hawaii Public Housing Authority the flexibility to implement the program as it deems appropriate for homeless clientele.

The bill mandates a full report to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the 2011 regular session. The report will list the total number of participants in the housing first programs, the annual costs of the programs, the types of services offered, and information regarding the duration of services required for each participant. The Legislature can then determine if the program should expand based on the success rate of its participants.

"This is an effective step toward reducing homelessness in Hawaii,” said Rep. Mizuno. “The program deals with our chronically homeless population, many who suffer from a mental illness and/or a drug addiction. Stability rather than shuffling them from park to park is a more cost effective and humane way to deal with homelessness in Hawaii.”

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