Mayor includes new affordable housing division in $2.3B proposed budget

Local News

Creating new positions in the City and County of Honolulu, and even a new division to help with affordable housing.

That’s part of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. He is asking for $2.3 billion, up 2.5 percent from last year.

“You ask providers how to solve homelessness, and they say build more affordable housing, and this office is partly about building more affordable housing,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell wants to staff the new division with eight people to help with buying and managing land to help with affordable housing.

“This effort is to move more people into housing, so I’m really asking the council to step up this year and fund this office,” he said.

Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin said he is open to hearing about the new division.

“It is a two-way street. That is the natural progression of government,” Martin said. “I know he made an emotional plea. I have my box of Kleenex here next to me.”

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who chairs the budget committee, opposes the idea “unless they can show us how much it’s needed. It’s like, how many people do we already have? We have a lot of great people working on it.”

The mayor wants to create 79 new positions, and add $1.5 million to the budget for it. He wants to hire people for a variety of jobs, including park maintenance, emergency services, and the zoo.

“It might be one-tenth of a percent, but what do you say to residents or taxpayers who might be thinking that’s a lot of money for a lot of positions?” KHON2 asked.

“When the residents and taxpayers see their bathrooms cleaned and their median strips manicured, I think they will appreciate the amount of money that we’re putting into it,” said Nelson Koyanagi Jr., director of Honolulu’s Budget and Fiscal Services Department.

The council will begin reviewing and voting on the budget later this month. It has scheduled final reading for the budget in June.

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