Seeks courageous action to tackle homelessness, housing issues
Honolulu, Hawaii – In his opening day remarks, Speaker of the House Scott K. Saiki told the 51 members of the House of Representatives that they must "step up to the plate" to provide the leadership needed during these "tumultuous times."
"The State of Hawaii requires leadership now and the House of Representatives can and should provide that leadership," Speaker Saiki said. "Unfortunately, one need only look to the past weekend to see a glaring instance of the inability of government at various levels to manage major issues facing out state."
Saiki was referring to the false emergency alert of an imminent missile strike issued by the state.
"Saturday's events reinforce the importance of the role of government. It also shines light on the role of the Legislature as the policymaker and as the check to other branches of government," Saiki said. "It is our duty to ensure that the three branches abide by their respective constitutional duties so that we all do our jobs well."
Saiki said House members are diverse, experienced, and energetic and begin this legislative session with a renewed sense of purpose.
"Our members have a pulse on what real people actually think, what they do, and what they want," Saiki said. "We should use this insight to be bold and creative. We should always be thinking of how to make things better."
Saiki told the Representatives and members of the public gathered in the House Chambers that the lack of affordable housing and the increasing homeless population are "two painfully obvious challenges that confront our state."
Saiki said solving these issues will take "commitment and courageous action, sustained over several years."
With more than 7,000 homeless persons throughout the state, Saiki said our approach to the issue requires multifaceted short- and long-term action. He said an example of a successful public-private partnership is Kahauiki Village, a self-contained community with 153 transitional homes, a preschool, a market, and a police meeting room.
"This model can be extended to homeless populations with substance abuse and mental health conditions," he said. "One important takeaway is that Kahauiki Village represents what is possible if people and agencies at different levels work towards a common goal."
To be effective leaders, Saiki called on the Representatives to be open to reform and challenge the status quo, to view challenges through the lens of those who are impacted by them, and to take a global approach to decision making.
"Members, we are at a moment in history where we cannot just be stewards. This legislative session is a call to broader involvement and decisive action," Saiki said. "We must be courageous activists because the issues facing our state are too urgent to wait. I know that we are up to the challenge."
(House Speaker Scott's K. Saiki's OpeningDay Remarks)