Councilman Ron Menor introduced a resolution on Thursday that would establish a city housing office in charge of affordable housing and housing for the homeless.
The Department of Housing would have cabinet-level status, ensuring that affordable housing issues receive high priority, Menor said in a press release.
Resolution 15-43 directs the City Charter Commission to review the proposal and approve a charter amendment that would be placed on the ballot during the 2016 election.
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“We have a housing and homelessness crisis and the city needs to be bold and proactive,” Menor said in a statement to the media. “In this regard, I think the timing is right for a serious discussion to occur about whether a housing department is needed on the city level.”
This fiscal year the city appropriated $42 million to help house the homeless, as part of its Housing First initiative.
Menor noted that the other counties have such offices. Honolulu’s was eliminated in 1998.
The new department would take over the duties of the current Department of Community Services as it relates to affordable housing by July 1, 2017. It would also absorb a new housing office that Mayor Kirk Caldwell created this year for the same purpose, called the Strategic Development Office. That office is administratively attached to the community services department.
“Right now, the administration of the city’s housing programs appears to be somewhat fragmented and lines of accountability blurred, and so it sometimes is tough to figure out who’s in charge of what on affordable housing policies,” Menor said in the press release.
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