From the governor: Tackling tough issues, opportunities for housing, OCCC

Posted on Oct 29, 2018 in Featured, Main

Much-needed housing for working families and seniors. Long-delayed projects finally underway to help communities. Improved facilities and rehabilitation programs to help people turn their lives around. Governor Ige and his team have shown they’re willing to tackle long-standing issues to make life better for Hawai‘i’s people. This edition takes a look at the real progress being made with actions, not just words.

Gov. Ige with Kaiwahine Village developer Doug Bigley on Maui.

Gov. Ige with Kaiwahine Village developer Doug Bigley on Maui.

Q. You’ve made replacing the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) and upgrading jails statewide one of your top priorities. Why is that?

A. I know it’s not a popular issue to take on, but the jails in each of the counties are old, overcrowded, and in dire need of modernization. We do see a need through criminal justice reform to “right-size” the population that goes to a jail and build facilities that allow us to implement best rehabilitative practices. In the case of OCCC, we have the opportunity to build a new facility in Halawa Valley and revitalize the Kalihi area along the rail line with more affordable housing, jobs and services. We’re looking at different financing alternatives, such as a public-private partnership, to help us build a new OCCC without diverting funds from construction needs for schools and other areas.

Q. Why has your administration resolved to tackle some major projects that have been stalled for years instead of just ‘kicking the can down the road?’ Are there more big items on your to-do list?

A. We made a commitment from the start to meet challenges head-on so we can move government forward. Now it’s about keeping the momentum going. If you look at the current airport modernization, we know we have a world-class visitor destination, but we need to make the investment to keep up with the times. We’re finally seeing the fruits of transforming homelessness programs and making sure everyone is working together. We’re also well on our way to producing the housing our community needs, improving education, streamlining state government and making the islands more livable.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director Jobie Masagatani and deputy William Aila with the governor and the Kalena-Dela Cruz family at the lot selection in Kapolei.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director Jobie Masagatani and deputy William Aila with the governor and the Kalena-Dela Cruz family at the lot selection in Kapolei.

Q. What progress are we seeing in affordable housing and how do you plan to continue the momentum?

A. We’re making great strides to reach our goal of producing 10,000 new housing units by 2020 and have added a new goal of 22,500 affordable rental units by 2026. We have the tools in place, attracted affordable rental developers and identified land available for projects. One developer said recently that we have the best Rental Housing Revolving Fund among the 33 states he works with. The state plan recommends that we provide an infusion of $100 million a year for the next 10 years to meet demand. Hawai‘i is actually taking action and putting our resources where our dreams are. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands also recently awarded 65 lots to families for turn-key houses with the state providing the infrastructure (See stories on Page 2).

Q. With Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, are you concerned how his views might affect Hawai‘i?

A. I’m disappointed there was a rush by the U.S. Senate to complete his confirmation instead of gathering all relevant information on his character and judicial temperament. I’m concerned because I’ve read about his previous decisions during his judicial career, and clearly he does not share the values that many in our community share. As a lifetime appointment, Justice Kavanaugh and his views will be part of many decisions that could affect our state.

Read more in November’s Capitol Connection newsletter

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