It is our kuleana to take care of our communities.
“Security” may seem like an unusual campaign priority for a State Senator. But in the context of Hawai’i State Senate kuleana, it seems an appropriate way to address some of the most difficult issues our Hawai’i communities face. From dealing with the stunning impacts of the volcanic eruption in Puna that are having islandwide consequences, to truly affordable housing and homelessness, to job training and re-training, to dealing with the skyrocketing cost of living, which are critical issues that keep me – and my constituents -- awake at night.
Several major bills and funding packages passed to address the continuing housing shortage and homelessness, including:
- $200 million was added to the Rental Housing Trust Fund to build approx. 1,600 affordable rental units
- $34.7 million to fund ‘Ohana Zones and support medical services for the homeless statewide.
Moving forward, I want to explore with fellow legislatorsand County elected officials and planners the possibility of re-initiating ‘Ohana Zoning as a strategy to quickly increase the housing inventory on our island. I would suggest that these units be subject to rent control for at least 30 years to ensure that the units really do remain affordable.
Also, I believe food and prescription drugs should be exempt from the General Excise Tax for all Hawai’i residents.
What isn’t addressed here and needs to be is funding and programs to help Puna residents deal with their tremendous losses – of homes, farms, infrastructure, businesses, and way of life. And there’s also the sky-high costs being incurred to provide emergency response services. This is not just a Puna issue – it’s an islandwide and really statewide issue.
Consequently, our Hawai’i Island delegation is working with key state leaders to develop a plan – knowing full well we have no way of knowing how long this eruption will continue or the extent of the damage.
In the meantime, I urge every single resident to please do what you can to help. We are all in this together.
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