The City Council Budget Committee, making its last pass on 2017 budget bills, restored about $4 million aimed at programs to help the homeless but again refused funding for a new housing office requested by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The committee approved the $2.3 billion city operating budget, a roughly $800 million capital improvement package and related bills Wednesday. Final votes by the full Council are expected June 1.
At the recommendation of Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi, the committee restored $1.79 million for operations at Hale Mauliola — Caldwell’s modular housing “navigation center” that opened in December — through a contract with the Institute for Human Services. Area Councilman Joey Manahan had previously opposed the funding, but relented after meeting with IHS officials.
Also restored were $1.2 million for a program that provides grants to nonprofits for use as down payments to purchase properties to develop affordable housing with support services; and an additional $1 million to operate an Iwilei hygiene center, although no site has been announced.
Separately, the committee earmarked $400,000 for mobile hygiene centers.
Despite a last-ditch plea by Community Services Director Gary Nakata, the committee again rebuffed the administration’s plan to create an Asset Management and Development Division within the Department of Community Services. The plan would have cost $477,690 to fund eight positions, and $1.89 million for property management and relocation functions.
Caldwell, in response, said Thursday a two-person Office of Strategic Development will continue to plan housing and homeless initiatives out of the managing director’s office. It will just be more difficult, and take longer, he said, for the city to put forward new facilities and projects for the homeless and others in need of affordable housing as directed by the Council, which budgeted $64 million for such initiatives.
In a related move, the committee voted to add $150,000 to its own legislative budget to advance development of temporary encampment sites around the island. Councilman Joey Manahan said the addition would allow the Council’s housing coordinator, Peter Boylan, to work with community organizations.
“There are a lot of nonprofits and various organizations who have taken up this initiative on their own … and we wanted to see how we could facilitate and help those organizations house folks in each of our districts,” Manahan said.
Council Chairman Ernie Martin said he supported the addition and said the Council will work with the administration on the initiative. “Every (Council) district is unique in servicing this. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of accommodation that we can move forward.”
A controversial proposal to provide $250,000 specifically for expansion of New Hope Oahu’s Center for Hope Capital Campaign was not taken up by the committee and appears to be dead.
The committee, meanwhile, voted to move forward a proposal by Martin to provide $500,000 to the nonprofit Kosong Foundation for development of a community cultural and arts center proposed for an area that includes the state Department of Agriculture’s Plant Pathology Lab.
Earl Yamamoto, an Agriculture Department planner, testified that it would cost $10 million to relocate the lab.
The committee also voted to allocated $500,000 in the capital improvements budget for planning and design of a parking structure near the Honolulu Zoo. A previous proposal called for the study to involve only the parking lot adjacent to the zoo.