Last week, Budget Committee members adopted their second round of amendments to the City’s FY 17 Operating Budget (Bill 14, CD2), Capital Improvements Project budget (Bill 15, CD2), HART operating and CIP budgets (Bill 18, CD2 and Bill 19, CD1). The budget measures will be considered on Final Reading on June 1, 2016.
Recommendations for homeless housing/wrap-around services proposed by the City Council include:
- $18 million in general obligation bonds for “land acquisition, lease, development and/or renovation of facilities for urban rest stops, navigation centers, workforce/affordable housing and other community-focused projects, provided that no more than $2 million may be expended in any one council district.”
- $2 million in general obligation bonds for an Iwilei Hygiene Center “plan, design, construct, inspect and provide related equipment for a hygiene center facility with public restrooms, showers and laundry facilities to serve homeless individuals and the general public.”
- $5.6 million from the Affordable Housing Fund for “development or preservation of affordable housing for the chronically homeless, including services for chronically homeless with mental health and/or chemical dependency issues; funds may be used in partnership with state housing and development agencies.”
The amounts listed above could be adjusted on Final Reading to address recent federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reductions to Oahu homeless providers whose clients were being served in emergency shelters or in transitional housing. City and State agencies must take the lead in developing permanent supportive housing to help these agencies regain federal funds for homeless services during the next budget cycle.
Last week, Executive Director Sharon Lee of Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) met with City agency representatives and toured potential permanent supportive housing sites with councilmembers, homeless service providers, faith community homeless advocates and nonprofit housing developers. In spite of recent federal housing cuts to Honolulu homeless agencies, we were encouraged to learn that up to 20% of the City’s Section 8 housing vouchers can be used for project-based facilities; this would allow the Section 8 vouchers to be bundled with other financing sources for permanent supportive housing (PSH) to provide rental subsidies to defray operating costs for a majority of the units.
Later this year, Councilmembers Menor, Kobayashi and I are planning to visit the Downtown Urban Rest Stop that LIHI has operated since 2000, and other Seattle low-income and permanent supportive housing facilities. LIHI and other Seattle homeless providers have spearheaded the development of “tiny houses” on small parcels of land, sites for short-term tent encampments and parking facilities with water/toilets for homeless individuals who have been living in their cars.