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Panel OKs more money for homeless

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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.

Correction: Gary Nakata is Honolulu’s director of the Department of Community Services, not the city Human Services director, as reported on Page B-1 Monday.
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    • “lot of nonprofits and various organizations” – They are NOT really “nonprofits”. The peope who form these “nonprofits”, do so to create a big salaried job for themselves.

    • Yep.

      “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.”

      Such a farce. This is not the Council’s job, it’s the Mayor’s.

  • Caldwell’s development division was an idea he got from PRP. Its a contractor program sold using homeless sympathy because it will have some small side benefits to homeless. What a scam!

  • The council still did not fund the ethics commission’s request for $6,000 for mandatory ethics training. In 2012, the mandated that every city employee be trained. At over 8,500 employees, the cost is less than $1 per employee.

    • City employees understand their ethical obligations, many just choose not to follow them. Not like Legislators who have no ethical obligations according to them.

      • City employees have been investigated by the ethics commission as well. (I recall at least one prominent case not too long ago.) I agree, however, that some of our representatives seem not to know what is ethical.

  • Why don’t we put the Zoo animals in cages in high-rise buildings with multi-story parking underneath. Then the rest of the zoo land could be given to developers willing to contribute to incumbent candidates.

  • Where might the parking structure be built near the zoo??
    Much better than ripping out the trees and putting a parking garage on top of the present zoo parking lot !!!

  • More taxpayer monies down the drain. There are no criteria for measuring success or failure for the monies being spent. What about accountability?

  • I would like to have the administrators of these funds provide a detailed report on how the money is to be spent. ie: Is it simply to support ‘chronics’ or is there a serious effort in not only providing housing, medical, education, clothing, etc to people ‘earnestly in need’ but also programs in getting these people employed and self sufficient and off the public’s support system. There has to be a limit, otherwise the government is creating (and promoting) a society of dependents that feed off of public sympathy and funding. There is no monthly or annual ‘report card’ providing the tax payers with the success or failure of these programs, so as far as most everyone knows little is being accomplished for the millions of their dollars spent. Whatever reports are made, are spotty at best. Reporting should be through a government report column in the daily media so people know and can see that our legislators are actually ‘working’ for the public’s benefit.

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