Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting should speed up permitting for state public housing projects, members of the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee said Thursday.

The panel passed a resolution introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin that urges the agency to work closely with the Housing Authority to minimize unnecessary delays in permitting.

“The City Council finds that it is incumbent on the City and County of Honolulu to assist in the preservation, repair, improvement, and maintenance of public housing on Oahu in order to address the affordable housing and homelessness crises facing our island home,” the resolution says.

Slow permitting has been a recurring problem with state public housing projects, making it tough for the Housing Authority to make units available quickly and effectively combat Hawaii’s growing homelessness crisis.

Boarded up end units at Kalihi Valley Homes Building 20.  Public Housing. 6 july 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Boarded-up end units at Kalihi Valley Homes, a public housing project awaiting repairs.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

For example, it took a year to receive permits for the public housing complexes in Kauahale Ohana, Koolau Village and Hookipa Kahaluu. Some projects, like Kalihi Valley Homes, have taken more than a year to receive building permits.

Hakim Ouansafi, executive director of the Housing Authority, said he’s grateful for the resolution. He also said he’s thankful that the Mayor’s Office has been willing to help address the problem.

Ouansafi met with Director of Planning and Permitting Director George Atta last week to discuss ways to speed up the permitting process.

Atta agreed to be available to meet with Housing Authority officials to discuss permits and allow some projects to begin before a permit is officially received.

Ouansafi agreed to hire third-party reviewers certified by the planning agency to analyze the Housing Authority’s applications, as well as mandate consultations with the city planning staff prior to submitting a permit.

Atta is also considering giving Housing Authority projects priority over other permits, Ouansafi said. He believes that should be the norm given that his agency serves the neediest people.

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