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Strengthening the community with jobs, housing, $$

Posted on Jan 27, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
The Ige administration is delivering more affordable housing.

The Ige administration is delivering more affordable housing.

While we work to maintain our health, we must also strengthen our communities. To do that, we must first help our struggling families—to malama pono, make things right for them. It means making sure they can secure the very basics of food, shelter and jobs. That’s why our Department of Human Services developed online applications for SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) and added 32,000 additional families during the pandemic. As many faced job losses, we provided $6.6 billion in unemployment benefits. The pandemic also caused many workers to lose long-held jobs and pursue new career paths. To help them, the Department of Labor is rolling out the Hawai‘i Career Acceleration Navigator, with its one-stop, online hub to help unemployed workers with new career and training opportunities.

The pandemic also highlighted the need for childcare for working families and how it is essential for many to continue to hold jobs. To help them, the state’s Child Care Program Office is distributing nearly $80 million to support access to childcare and provide much needed relief for young families. These funds will support childcare businesses weathering the challenges of the pandemic. To assist renters and homeowners, we provided $260 million in emergency rent and mortgage assistance to ensure that no family would be evicted because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Homes Commission postponed mortgage payments and provided its beneficiaries with rent and utility assistance. The state is also working closely with the counties to increase the number of affordable rentals on all islands, including more than a thousand affordable units on the neighbor islands since we took office. Two years ago, the legislature created ‘Ohana Zones. We opened 20 sites across all islands that provide a wide range of services for individuals and families. These projects have assisted over 5,500 individuals statewide, with more than 1,300 placed directly into permanent housing. . . . But the biggest factor affecting home ownership in Hawai‘i is supply. That’s why we set out to build 10,000 new homes by 2020—and we did it! We also expect to build another 3,000 homes by the end of this year.

We can strengthen our communities in another way too. Given the recent revenue projections, we’re asking the Legislature to return some of those dollars back to taxpayers. We want to issue refund checks of $100 for every taxpayer and for each dependent. For a family of four that means 400 extra dollars. In this way, we’ll also inject $110 million back into our economy, giving it a very big boost as well.

Read more in the February Capitol Connection newsletter.

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