HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2018
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to homelessness.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that homelessness is an issue of public concern and should be regarded as one of the most significant social problems facing the State. The severity of the problem is visible in every area of the State, and signs that the problem is growing progressively worse are becoming more and more prevalent. Without exception, the problem of homelessness affects the lives of every person in the State, and the burden of rectifying this problem should be approached as a collective responsibility. While there are no easy solutions, it is clear that community involvement in the fight against homelessness is the key toward the development of an effective and workable system.
The legislature understands that a cooperative effort between the State, counties, and federal government is necessary to provide the community with the resources and incentives needed to eliminate the condition of homelessness. The legislature also finds that the establishment of a voluntary homeless assistance pilot project that would authorize the payment of a state grant and a monthly rent supplement to any interested property owner who sets aside any existing rental space, or who undertakes the improvement or construction of any adjoining or separate dwelling unit for the purpose of renting the unit to any family or individual classified as homeless, would be a feasible undertaking and help to reduce the homelessness rate.
The legislature further finds that the cost to implement this particular approach would be far less than the cost of building new homeless shelter facilities, since the capital development costs of building rental units would be shared by the public and private sectors. Additionally, because the pilot project has the potential to drastically reduce the actual number of homeless families and individuals living in public areas, it could restore unfettered access to malls, streets, parks, and campgrounds, and allow stricter enforcement of the State's public access laws. Overall, the pilot project would enrich the quality of life for the people of Hawaii and strengthen the State's reputation as one of the most beautiful areas in the world to visit.
The legislature intends that the pilot project will assist homeless families and individuals willing to engage in self-improvement programs and undertake regular employment by providing an alternative to living in homeless shelters, which indiscriminately group together homeless families with special needs homeless persons. The legislature anticipates that lifting the burden on homeless shelters will allow other resource providers to focus more intently on special needs homeless persons. The legislature also anticipates that limiting the number of homeowners authorized to take part in the pilot project to ten per census tract will ensure that no particular district or community is unduly burdened by a sudden influx of homeless families holding rental contracts with qualified homeowners under the project. The legislature expects that, with approximately two hundred forty-four census tracts throughout the city and county of Honolulu, the project has the potential of making 2,440 units available to homeless families on Oahu. Moreover, with an average of two and one-half members per homeless family, the legislature expects that the project will have the ability to provide homes for 6,100 people during its initial pilot phase alone.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to establish a five-year homeless assistance pilot project, which shall be known as the "Hale Kokua project", to authorize the payment of a state grant and a monthly rent supplement to any interested property owner who sets aside any existing rental space or who undertakes the improvement or construction of any adjoining or separate dwelling unit for the purpose of renting the unit for a period of five years to any family or individual classified as homeless under the pilot project.
SECTION 2. There is established within the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation a five-year homeless assistance pilot project. The pilot project shall be known as the "Hale Kokua project." The pilot project shall:
(1) Provide incentives and assistance to private homeowners in the city and county of Honolulu who set aside existing dwelling units, or construct new or improve existing dwelling units, for rental for a period of five years by families or individuals classified as homeless under the project;
(2) Be headed by a project coordinator, who shall be appointed by the executive director of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation, with the assistance of the homeless housing assistance coordinating committee that is established under section 4 of this Act;
(3) Be administered by the executive director of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation, who shall adopt the standards and framework necessary to implement the project statewide after its initial pilot phase;
(4) Initially be limited in scope to the city and county of Honolulu;
(5) Prioritize placing homeless families who have been homeless in the State the longest and have been living in parks, cars, the streets, or other public areas, into rental housing made available under the project;
(6) Limit the number of homeowners authorized to take part in the project to ten per census tract, in order to ensure that no particular district or community is unduly burdened by a sudden influx of homeless families holding rental contracts with qualified homeowners under the project; and
(7) Have a long-term purpose of developing the framework that will allow the project to be implemented statewide.
SECTION 3. (a) The executive director of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation shall appoint a Hale Kokua project coordinator to carry out the purposes of this Act. The project coordinator may be assisted by an administrative assistant and one clerical staff member, both of whom shall be appointed by the executive director without regard to chapter 76, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The project coordinator, with the approval of the executive director, may contract with private entities to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the project.
(b) Under the supervision of the executive director, the duties of the Hale Kokua project coordinator shall include:
(1) Carrying out the requirements of the Hale Kokua project under this Act;
(2) Developing and adopting the requirements and qualifications, registration, background check, initial screening and follow-up post-placement procedures necessary to determine the project's ability to make rental payments and need for social services and referrals for homeless families and individuals to qualify them as tenants under this project. The project coordinator shall prioritize the placement of homeless families living in parks, cars, campgrounds, on the streets, or other public areas, into rental units under this project;
(3) Developing and adopting the requirements, qualifications, and registration procedures necessary for property owners who provide rental housing to qualified homeless tenants; provided that priority shall be given to property owners not requesting construction grants;
(4) Developing appropriate waivers of liability and adopting the procedures necessary to place qualified homeless tenants with property owners participating in the project; provided that participating property owners shall have the opportunity to conduct interviews and make the final tenant selection from lists of prospective tenants compiled by the project coordinator;
(5) Establishing the procedures and requirements necessary for the disbursement of building improvement grants and rental subsidies to property owners participating in the project;
(6) Working with the counties to develop and propose uniform incentives, including real property tax waivers or reductions, and exemptions in zoning or building code requirements, to encourage and facilitate the participation of property owners;
(7) Monitoring the financial status and progress of recovery of the homeless tenants and cooperating with other agencies in establishing and coordinating self-help, job training, and other self-improvement programs for the homeless;
(8) Promoting and assisting in the development of employer-employee relationships between homeless tenants and participating property owners, including but not limited to tenant caretaker, housekeeper, or groundskeeper employment situations;
(9) Assisting homeless families and individuals wishing to return or relocate to out-of-state locations to carry out their relocation;
(10) Securing financial, in-kind, and administrative assistance from law enforcement and other state and county agencies and the private sector to implement the project;
(11) Securing funding assistance from federal agencies and programs involved in housing development, job-training, or homeless assistance;
(12) Reporting monthly to the homeless housing assistance coordinating committee; and
(13) Monitoring the overall progress of the Hale Kokua project, and collecting annual statistics on the numbers of homeless individuals, homeless families, and homeless children housed by the project, using measurement systems that are aligned with national surveys and studies on homelessness.
SECTION 4. (a) There is established a homeless housing assistance coordinating committee, which shall consist of eleven members to provide advisory assistance to the Hale Kokua project coordinator in implementing the provisions of this Act. The committee shall regularly consult with homeless persons.
(b) The members of the homeless housing assistance coordinating committee shall include:
(1) The executive director of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation, who shall serve as the ex officio, voting chairperson of the committee, or the executive director's designee;
(2) The director of human services;
(3) The director of labor and industrial relations;
(4) The director of health;
(5) The superintendent of education;
(6) The governor's coordinator on homelessness;
(7) A representative of the homeless population who shall be appointed by the governor; and
(8) A representative from each of the four counties who shall be appointed by the governor from a list of two nominees per county that is submitted by the mayor of each county.
(c) The members of the committee shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses, including travel expenses, incurred while attending meetings and while in the discharge of their responsibilities.
SECTION 5. The Hale Kokua project coordinator shall permit a maximum of ten property owners in each census tract to participate in the project at any given time, without regard to the existence or operation of shelters and other facilities that assist homeless persons in the tract. The project coordinator shall notify prospective participants registered on the waiting list in each census tract of the opportunity to participate in the project as these opportunities arise in each tract.
Assistance to any qualified property owner providing rental housing to any homeless tenant under this Act for a period of five years shall include but not be limited to at least one of the following:
(1) The payment of up to $ as a state grant to offset the cost of renovating, improving, building any adjoining addition, or constructing any separate structure upon the premises of the owner's property in preparation for its use as a homeless assistance unit under the project;
(2) The payment of a $ monthly state rent subsidy to supplement the monthly rental payments made by the homeless tenant;
(3) Real property tax waivers or rate reductions proposed by the project coordinator and approved by the council of the county in which the property is located;
(4) Zoning and building code exemptions applicable to the construction of adjoining or separate dwelling units on the owner's property; provided that the county, by ordinance, may establish minimum development and construction standards for these units and procedures for approval thereto; and
(5) Other incentives consistent with the purposes of this Act that are adopted by the project coordinator to incentivize and facilitate the participation of property owners in the project.
SECTION 6. Any property owner who withdraws from the Hale Kokua project prior to the expiration of five years from commencing participation in the project shall return the state grant for construction improvements within ninety days of the date of withdrawal. The project coordinator shall effect the recovery of the grant, including but not limited to the filing of liens against the real property of withdrawing property owners. The respective county government whose jurisdiction includes the rental site shall determine the disposition of the additional unit constructed with the grant.
SECTION 7. The Hawaii housing finance and development corporation shall adopt rules, pursuant to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, necessary to effectuate the purpose of this Act; provided that any rules adopted within one year after the effective date of this Act shall be exempt from the public notice and public hearing requirements of chapter 91.
SECTION 8. The Hawaii housing finance and development corporation shall prepare interim reports on the status of the Hale Kokua project after the first year of the project's operation, which shall be submitted to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each of the regular sessions of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. The report shall include the annual statistics referenced in section 3(b)(13) of this Act and other relevant information.
SECTION 9. The Hawaii housing finance and development corporation shall prepare a final report on the Hale Kokua project after the project has ended. The report shall contain findings and recommendations, including recommendations on ways to encourage participating property owners to commit to further participation in the project, as well as details of the framework needed to implement the project statewide, and any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2023.
SECTION 10. Nothing contained in this Act shall be deemed to delegate or detract in any way from the functions, powers, and duties prescribed by law for any other department or agency of the State or counties, nor to interrupt or preclude the direct relationships of any such department or agency in the performance of such functions, powers, and duties.
SECTION 11. This Act shall take effect upon its approval, and shall be repealed on July 1, 2023; provided that the repeal of this Act shall not affect the right to recover grants under section 6 of this Act.
Homelessness; HHFDC; Hale Kokua Pilot Project
Establishes a 5-year Hale Kokua pilot project under the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to reduce homelessness by incentivizing and assisting private homeowners who set aside existing dwelling units, or construct new or improve existing dwelling units, for rental by families and individuals classified as homeless under the project. Requires interim and final reports to the legislature. Repealed on 7/1/2023.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.