Between March and May, the City Council’s Budget Committee is scrutinizing proposals to tackle homelessness, sewer/road infrastructure, and provide emergency services in the face of increased demands for City services. Between April 5th and 6th, Budget Committee members reviewed the administration’s funding requests and adopted Proposed CD1 drafts for the City’s FY 17 Operating Budget (Bill 14), CIP budget (Bill 15), HART operating and CIP budgets (Bills 17 and 18), among measures establishing the real property tax rates for 2017-2018.
To address complaints about the increased numbers of homeless individuals with mental health and substance abuse challenges that have returned to the Downtown/Chinatown area, I am proposing $3 million to develop an Iwilei Hygiene Center with public restrooms, showers and laundry facilities to serve homeless individuals and the general public (Proposed CD1, Bill 15).
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.
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.
An appropriation of $550,000 has also been proposed to create two demonstration Market Kiosks out of the existing trellis columns on Sun Yat-Sen Mall and College Walk Mall to help revitalize economic activity along these two malls. During last year’s Chinatown Action Summit discussions, Dean Sakamoto’s SHADE interns and mentors conceptualized this project, which I believe will go a long way towards reducing homeless activities along the Nuuanu Stream walkways and help us clean up Aala Park.
To celebrate Earth Month 2016, Senator Chun Oakland, Representative Rhoads, Councilmember Manahan and I are again partnering with American Savings Bank with a Community Clean-up for both Malls and Aala Park between 8:00am-10:00am on Saturday, April 30, 2016.