Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has a plan for spending $61.7 million of the $64 million in bond financing that the City Council approved for housing and homelessness initiatives in fiscal years 2015-2016.
Just $22,246,616 is spoken for so far — and the vast majority of that has been dedicated to acquiring four properties, including a former school in Makiki on Hassinger Street and a modular housing site on Farrington Highway in Waianae. He expects to spend10 an additional $21 million on property acquisition.
About $9.4 million would be spent on capital improvement projects with $1.5 million already dedicated to repair Winston Hale, a 52-year-old city affordable housing complex in Chinatown.
Another $2.9 million is budgeted for equipment purchases like container housing, and $2.9 million is budgeted for engineering, construction, appraisal and architect services. Nearly $1.5 million of the funding budgeted for equipment and services is already obligated.
Gary Nakata, who leads the city Department of Community Services, sent City Council Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi a letter Friday updating her on how the administration is planning to spend the housing and homelessness funds.
Council Chairman Ernie Martin recently called for an audit of the city’s spending on homelessness and affordable housing. Homelessness is an increasing problem in Honolulu and has been a consistent source of tension between the mayor and the Council.
Caldwell also sent Martin a letter Friday urging the Council to hear a resolution that would allow the city to move forward with plans to partner with Michaels Development to add low-income senior housing in Chinatown. The mayor said that the company needs to apply for funding by June.
“If a Development Agreement is not accepted this month, Michaels will not be able to make the June 1 deadline and would have to wait until the next round of funding in January 2017,” Caldwell wrote. “This delay could stop the project entirely, wasting years of work and progress. Worse yet, this failure to act would further deprive Oahu’s seniors of 151 desperately needed, truly affordable units.”
In an emailed statement late Friday, Martin said that the Council will “work towards a hearing to consider the development agreement” after the administration holds community meetings on March 8 and March 14.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said a community meeting would be held on March 10 rather than March 14.
Martin noted that one of the project’s neighbors, Borthwick Mortuary, only recently learned of the proposed development.
“And that’s just one of the many community voices involved with this project that deserve to be heard before the Council,” Martin wrote.
Read Nakata’s letter below for more details on the mayor’s spending proposal: