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From the governor: Creating lasting change for Hawai’i

Posted on Aug 29, 2018 in Capitol Connection, Featured

From real progress on affordable housing to airport modernization, a new state hospital facility, a long-awaited Hawai‘i island highway, and new projects such as free public Wi-Fi hotspots across the islands, the Ige administration is committed to creating change for the better. The governor says, “These changes prove we can move forward as a community when we all work together.”

Gov. Ige, officials break ground for Keahumoa Place in Kapolei.

Gov. Ige, officials break ground for Keahumoa Place in Kapolei.

Q. Are you encouraged by what you’ve seen lately in affordable housing momentum?
A. Certainly, it’s exciting for me to see so many of these projects finally moving forward. In a span of less than two weeks, we’ve had groundbreakings and blessings for projects that represented almost 500 affordable housing units with more to come. From the start, we’ve made increasing housing a top priority. The housing task force we formed when I first took office helped us see the gaps in existing state programs and get things moving. They helped us craft legislation that improved the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to make those tools more useful. We got home builders and state agency leaders in the same room to find where the bottlenecks were so we could increase production.

An architect's rendering of Keahumoa Place, another affordable rental in Kapolei.

An architect’s rendering of Keahumoa Place, another affordable rental in Kapolei.

Q. Why are the Mayor Wright and School Street redevelopment projects so important in the bigger affordable housing picture?
A. Those two projects are about getting more efficiency and housing production from state lands. They also take advantage of public-private partnerships where the private sector can bring more capital investment to the project. It’s clear as a state we haven’t been producing enough housing to meet demand, so we have to look at innovative ways to make use of the lands we have. The School Street project will provide affordable rental housing for seniors. The Mayor Wright redevelopment is about creating a broader community of rental units for all incomes, with a park, stores, services and gathering places for families.

Q. Several other major state projects marked milestones in the past month. What is most significant about those?
A. For projects like the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport modernization and the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway on Hawai‘i island, it’s been about getting projects moving after years of being stuck. The airport’s mauka terminal for expanding interisland service, the central and ewa concourse improvements, even redoing the bathrooms — we know people have said we’ve needed these improvements for a long time. Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway was stalled for five or six years until our administration made it a priority to work with the community on important cultural sites and environmental concerns to come up with plans to protect them. I’m also proud we could finally break ground for a new forensic psychiatric facility at the Hawai‘i State Hospital for those sent there by the court system. Thanks to the efforts of many people, including area legislators and the state Department of Health leadership, we’ll have a modern facility for patients and employees and a higher level of security for community safety (See stories on Pages 2, 4).

Q. What other recent modernization projects do you want people to know about?
A. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has announced the first wave of free public Wi-Fi hotspots with one hour of free service per device each day at various locations on Kaua‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i and O‘ahu. Also we’re very pleased with the successful roll-out of the state’s payroll modernization effort for thousands of employees. It’s part of our commitment to upgrade the core operations of government to serve people better because so many of our systems are old and antiquated.

Read more in September Capitol Connection newsletter