For those who are homeless, we’re opening a new Family Assessment Center in Kaka‘ako that will house up to 240 people a year. This facility will not be just another shelter, but rather a way to connect families to longer-term housing.
My proposed budget includes $8.3 million to operate the Center, expand the Housing First program on the neighbor islands and establish a new Rapid Re-housing Program throughout the state. The state will also be investing $5 million to partner with Aloha United Way to provide for homeless prevention services and a statewide referral system.
Long overdue improvements at Hawai‘i State Hospital– Mental and behavioral health issues are often the underlying cause of many of our community’s challenges. To deal with the serious patient overcrowding and the safety issues for employees, we’re proposing to invest $160.5 million in a new forensic mental health facility on the grounds of the hospital in Kane‘ohe.
IMPROVING RURAL HEALTH CARE
While we have made progress, there continue to be areas of concern. One of these is the operation of the hospitals on our neighbor islands and in rural communities. It is getting harder and harder for us as a state to operate these hospitals well.
We need the resources the private sector can bring to bear on the increasingly complex issues and challenges of health care. We recently signed a historic agreement transferring the operation and management of the Maui Region health care facilities from the state to Kaiser Permanente. There is still work ahead but this is a great step forward. Thanks to all of you for working with us to make this happen.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN – COOLING OUR SCHOOLS
An innovative, energy-efficient approach – Our highest single obligation should be to take care of our children. We need to air condition classrooms now, in energy-efficient ways that align with our commitment to end our dependence on imported fossil fuels. I am working with the DOE, other state departments, utilities and clean energy companies to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of this year, and thousands more each year through 2018.
To start, we will use $100 million of Green Energy Market Securitization funds to install energy-efficiency measures and air conditioning in classrooms. By using existing GEMS program dollars, the DOE and its energy-efficiency partner, OpTerra, can quickly access affordable financing for a large portion of the cost to air condition our classrooms. I know you share my concerns. Let’s work together to support our kids. This, too,is long overdue.