State lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives have scheduled an informational briefing to hear from the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) and various social service providers on domestic violence in Hawaii, how HPD responds to domestic violence calls, and any suggestions for improvement. The briefing is an opportunity for lawmakers to gather information following a high-profile domestic violence case involving one of its officers.
The briefing, held by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs and the House Committee on Public Safety, will be on Tuesday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol in Room 309. Click here to view the briefing notice.
"We're holding this briefing because concerns were raised by many lawmakers about the policies and procedures in place when officers respond to domestic violence calls," said Sen. Will Espero (D-19 Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of Ewa Villages), chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs. "This will give us and the public an opportunity to address these issues and put domestic violence front-and-center on everyone's radar. We're making this a priority, and I see this briefing as just another step in affecting real change to help protect victims of domestic violence."
Representative Henry Aquino (D-38 Waipahu), chairman of the House Committee on Public Safety, noted that the tragedy of domestic violence has recently captured the national and local news headlines spotlighting that the issue has no economic, educational or cultural boundaries.
"This informational hearing will allow us to hear from experts on domestic violence, separate the myths from facts, and gain information on policies and procedures by law enforcement professionals in handling domestic violence situations and calls. The issue is not new. We now have an opportunity to arm ourselves with education and commit our collective will to recognize, report and take action against this kind of violence that impacts all of us," said Aquino.
Speakers and their subject matter include:
Overview of Domestic Violence laws: Loretta Sheehan, esq. and Nicole Edwards Masuda, esq., Domestic Violence Action Center
Annual Statistics and data: Cindy Spencer, Vice President, DVAC - Community Outreach & Education
Police Response to DV calls: Chief Louis Kealoha, Police Chief, Honolulu Police Department
Response to DV calls if alleged abuser is HPD: Honolulu Police Department
Status report of Officer Cachola video: Honolulu Police Department
The role of the Police Commission: Gregory Gilmartin, Executive Officer, Police Commission
Best Practices of Law Enforcement: Marci Lopes, Executive Director, Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Experiences of victims: Cathy Betts, Executive Director, Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women
Independent Review Board Proposal: Aaron Hunger, Instructor of Criminal Justice at Remington College & Ph.D. at UH of Manoa
With the shortage of affordable housing options for the moderate income workforce, Hawaii lawmakers today held a joint Senate and House informational briefing to learn more about affordable housing needs in Hawaii.
Senators and representatives heard from various government agencies to learn about the status of existing and planned affordable housing projects, and their plans to address the growing need for affordable housing as the state's population and housing demands increase.
"We convened this informational briefing because there's an urgent need for affordable housing," said Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services. "And it's necessary that we get everyone involved at each level and at the same table to discuss where we are at, what we are doing and what needs to be done to meet the housing needs of Hawaii's residents."
In 2011, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) released the Hawaii Housing Planning Study which revealed 50,000 new units needed to be built between 2012 and 2016 to meet demands. Of that number, based on HUD income guidelines, about 19,000 are needed for household incomes of 80 percent of area median income (AMI) and below. (This is $43,250 for 1-person household, and $61,750 for 4-person household). HHFDC has procured a new updated study that will be released later this year.
"Hawaii's workforce deserves to live in housing they can afford," said Rep. Mark Hashem, chair of the House Committee on Housing. "Nearly half of Hawaii's homeless population are working persons who are unable to afford steady permanent housing. In addition to addressing the housing shortage for those at AMI, we also need to ensure there is enough help for hard-working low-income individuals to obtain housing units."
During the briefing, lawmakers questioned the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) about reserved housing requirements for workforce housing in the Kakaako district.
"Our constituents remain concerned that developers are reserving affordable housing units at the 140% of AMI mark, which is not reasonable for many of Hawaii's working population," said Chun Oakland. "HCDA needs to be doing more to address the housing needs of the people at 100% of AMI and below."
Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing, questioned the siloed approach to planning for affordable housing projects for transit oriented development (TOD).
"It seems like all agencies have their own plan and no one is working together," said Dela Cruz. "Instead of this siloed approach to workforce housing in relation to TOD, there must be an overall statewide approach. There's going to be housing located around the various TOD stations. Why are we not working together?"
This past session, the legislature created a TOD Working Group to bring together all major players to plan for the future in a comprehensive and succinct way.
Sen. Will Espero, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, expounded on the effect veterans returning home will have on Hawaii's housing needs in the future.
"Our veterans fought for our nation's principles of freedom and liberty and deserve to raise their families in housing they can afford," said Senator Will Espero, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs. "As our veterans return home, we need to ensure they have access to services to ensure a smooth transition back to civilian life."
Other issues related to affordable housing discussed included the growing number of people on the waitlist of public housing and Hawaiian homelands. In public housing, there is approximately 30,000 people waitlisted (using three people per family as the average). That is about 10,000 families on the waitlist. For Hawaiian homelands, 26,926 applicants are waitlisted and 43,080 applicants are pending.
During the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers approved measures to help with affordable housing. They include:
SB2542 (Act 163) - Restores the allocation of conveyance tax collections to the rental housing trust fund to 50% beginning July 1, 2014. It is estimated that this law will generate $33,100,000 for the Rental Housing Trust Fund, which is used to leverage funds for the building of affordable housing units.
HB2251 (Act 162) - Increases the Hula Mae Multifamily Revenue Bond authorization limit from $750 million to $1 billion. The program will help first-time buyers afford a 30-year mortgage at a competitive rate and provides down payment assistance. There's a high demand for this type of financing and in 2013 the total dollar value of requests exceeded the amount available. Increasing this amount will allow for the continuation of development and preservation of affordable housing for lower income households.
The following government agencies who provided testimony include Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA), Department of Defense, City and County of Honolulu's Office of Housing.
See all of the briefing material here.
Please be advised that these pages may contain links to external Internet sites
established by other entities. The Hawaii State Legislature does not maintain, review,
or endorse these sites and is not responsible for their content.
We make every effort to comply to ADA standards, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation
Visit our ADA page here. If you have any problems with any of these pages, please
contact the webmaster with the page address and problems encountered.