Budget Committee members reviewed the administration’s funding requests and adopted amended versions of the City’s FY 17 Operating Budget (Bill 14, CD1), Capital Improvements Project budget (Bill 15, CD1), HART operating and CIP budgets (Bills 17, CD1 and 18, CD1) on April 20, 2016. Resolution 16-61, which establishes real property tax rates for 2016-2017, also passed first reading on April 20th and will now be considered by the Council’s Budget Committee. To address complaints about the increased number of homeless encampments in and around Waterfront Gateway Park, JABSOM and Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako, I proposed $3 million to develop an Iwilei Hygiene Center with public restrooms, showers and laundry facilities to serve homeless individuals and the general public (Bill 15, CD1).
Other City Councilmembers and I have been very encouraged by the successful “Urban Rest Stop” programs operated by Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and believe that at least one or more of the City or State properties in Iwilei provide the best locations for such a program in Downtown Honolulu.
During LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee’s recent visit to Honolulu, we also visited several State properties in the Ala Moana-Kakaako area, which could also serve as locations for Urban Rest Stop facilities closer to Waikiki and Ala Moana.LIHI has operated its Downtown Urban Rest Stop since 2000, where 5 private shower rooms, 9 washers/14 dryers, large restrooms and a health room provide 16 hours daily (on weekdays, and 9 hours of services on weekends) to homeless men, women, and children within a clean, safe, respectful and dignified environment. The LIHI programs are funded through private sector contributions, which also contribute towards keeping public sidewalks clean and usable by the general public.
In conjunction with the Urban Rest Stop models for community sanitation, I am also supporting continued funding for expanded outreach/placement services by homeless service providers with proven track records in treating chronic homeless individuals and assisting those with chemical dependency or mental health issues. This includes $680,000 for the partnerships between Mental Health Kokua and Institute for Human Services, which is also pushing for increased employment/housing preparations for former OCC felons before they are released into the community.