Mayor Rick Blangiardi looks to streamline city services and help those who can’t pay rent

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Help is on the way for those who can’t pay their rent. City services will be overhauled to be more efficient.

Those are the top priorities for Honolulu’s new mayor in his first state of the city address.

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As for city services, one of the top priorities is the Department of Planning and Permitting, which has been plagued by backlogs for several years.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says it’s time to streamline the permitting process, which is critical to the construction industry, and can help stimulate the economy.

“One of the great features of the new system will be transparency for users status, so people can check their permit status online. We believe this will also speed up the process so contractors can get to work faster,” he said.

It’s just part of a list that Blangiardi wants to modernize. Another one is called HNL pay, which is a more convenient way to pay for city services.

“For the first time you can pay for your city permits, licenses, and applications electronically,” he said.

Blangiardi adds that with the recently approved federal aid, the city already plans to use $114 million to help those who can’t afford to pay their rent and utility bills.

“It can provide up to 12 months of financial help, depending on the person’s financial situation,” said Blangiardi. “We’re excited about that, we know it’s going to make a difference.”

The mayor says last week’s flooding shows that climate change has to be addressed.

“To better protect our communities and city facilities, including things like channel wall reconstruction, dredging our streams and lagoons, and reconstructing debris basins,” he said.

City Council Chairman Tommy Waters says he likes the mayor’s proposals, but he worries about how the city will be able to pay for them.

“The budget is pretty lean,” said Waters. “Each department is taking a big cut. So I look forward to working with the administration to figure out how we can use federal dollars to supplement our city taxpaying dollars and achieve all these notable goals.”

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