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 and affordable housing are two of the most pressing problems facing Hawaii, especially for families with minor children. The 2017 point in time count on the island of Oahu found that there are four hundred fifty-eight sheltered and unsheltered homeless families, and Hawaii's homeless management information system showed that there were five hundred eighty-two homeless minor children on Oahu as of November 30, 2017.
The nexus between homelessness and domestic violence must also be recognized. The Safe Housing Partnerships has reported that over fifty per cent of homeless women indicated that domestic violence was the reason for their lack of housing and that domestic violence had been experienced by eighty per cent of homeless women with children.
However, due to an intensely focused effort by stakeholders across the State, including foundations and nonprofit providers, significant strides are being made to address family homelessness. As the network of people and organizations engaged in addressing homelessness has begun to make more efficient use of available funding sources and resources by implementing a data-driven and collaborative process that matches those experiencing homelessness with the services they need, now is the time to increase those available resources to further invest in targeted interventions.
Making and keeping housing affordable for Hawaii's families must also be a priority. Hawaii has the highest housing costs in the nation and the lowest wages after adjusting for cost of living. The greatest need for affordable housing lies at the lowest end of the income scale, specifically residents with incomes at thirty per cent or less of the area median income. By increasing the State's investment in long-term, shallow rent subsidies and updating the low-income household renters tax credit, Hawaii can help vulnerable families out of homelessness and ensure these families have greater housing stability.
Addressing the issue of homelessness and creating stable housing situations will require comprehensive solutions built on approaches that span a spectrum of needs. Many of these approaches are in place and delivering results, such as proven programs like housing first and rapid rehousing, which are turning the tide on chronic family homelessness. In addition, other programs that target the spectrum of families' needs, including those who are unsheltered and those who are experiencing untenable housing costs, are in need of continued funding, increased investments, or updates.
Unsheltered families can be assisted by the family assessment center in Kakaako, Oahu. The family assessment center, which was opened in September 2016, has achieved extraordinary results over its first year of operation. Out of fifty-four households served, ninety-one per cent were successfully housed and one hundred per cent of those housed have remaining in housing. The family assessment center provides comprehensive services including benefit reviews and determinations, health assessments, service coordination, and housing placement.
Rental subsidies are critical to address one of the root causes of homelessness: the lack of affordable rentals. Many homeless families are working and only need a shallow, but sustained, subsidy to rapidly move to permanent housing. The Hawaii public housing authority can administer a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program that involves ongoing, shallow rental subsidies, which will move homeless families with children into stable housing. Similar programs provide ongoing rental subsidies to households who are closer to financial self-sufficiency but still have a narrow affordability gap to fill, unlike the deep subsidy section 8 housing choice voucher program, which helps families at the lowest end of the income scale by bridging a wide affordability gap between income and housing costs. The establishment of a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program that provides a small, time-limited subsidy will allow families to avoid the risk of homelessness and gain time to achieve self-sufficiency. Requiring recipients of housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program subsidies to pursue evidence-based financial case management and counseling services for the whole family, including children, will help these families achieve critical economic and housing stability now and in the future.
Finally, to assist struggling households to remain in housing, the State must update the low-income household renters tax credit. Seventy-two per cent of people in Hawaii living at or near the poverty line now spend more than half of their income on rent. More than half of Hawaii's renters are cost-burdened, spending more than thirty per cent of their income on rent. Increasing the credit, adjusting the eligibility cut-off, and making this a monthly or quarterly credit instead of a windfall at the end of the tax year, will mitigate families' housing cost burden and allow them to remain stably housed. Preventing families who are one pay check away from falling into homelessness is essential to ending the homelessness crisis in Hawaii.
The purpose of the Act is to address Hawaii's homelessness issue through a multi-faceted approach by:
(1) Expanding eligibility criteria and available credit amount for the low income-household renters' income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status;
(2) Appropriating funds to the department of human services for the continued administration of the family assessment center for homeless families; and
(3) Appropriating funds to the Hawaii public housing authority for the state rent supplement program to provide assistance through a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program and requiring recipients of subsidies from this program to obtain financial case management and counseling services.
SECTION 2. Section 235-55.7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§235-55.7 Income tax credit for low-income household renters. (a) As used in this section:
"Adjusted gross income" [ is defined by section 235-1.] means
adjusted gross income as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.
"Consumer price index" means the Honolulu Region Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, All Items as published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, or any successor index.
"Qualified exemption" includes those exemptions permitted under this
chapter; provided that a person for whom exemption is claimed has physically
resided in the State for more than nine months during the taxable year; and
provided further that multiple [ exemption] exemptions
shall not be granted because of deficiencies in vision, hearing, or other
"Rent" means the amount paid in cash in any taxable year for the
occupancy of a dwelling place [ which] that is used by a resident
taxpayer or the resident taxpayer's immediate family as the principal residence
in this State. Rent is limited to the
amount paid for the occupancy of the dwelling place only, and is exclusive of
charges for utilities, parking stalls, storage of goods, yard services,
furniture, furnishings, and the like.
Rent shall not include any rental claimed as a deduction from gross
income or adjusted gross income for income tax purposes, any ground rental paid
for use of land only, and any rent allowance or subsidies received.
(b) Each resident taxpayer who occupies and pays rent for real property within the State as the resident taxpayer's residence or the residence of the resident taxpayer's immediate family which is not partially or wholly exempted from real property tax, who is not eligible to be claimed as a dependent for federal or state income taxes by another, and who files an individual net income tax return for a taxable year, may claim a tax credit under this section against the resident taxpayer's Hawaii state individual net income tax.
(c) Each taxpayer [
with an adjusted gross
income of less than $30,000] who has paid more than $1,000 in rent during
the taxable year for which the credit is claimed may claim a tax credit [ of $50]
calculated according to this subsection, multiplied by the number of
qualified exemptions to which the taxpayer is entitled; provided that
each taxpayer sixty-five years of age or over may claim double the tax credit;
and provided further that a resident individual who has no income or no
income taxable under this chapter may also claim the tax credit as set forth in
this section. The tax credit shall be
calculated as follows:
(1) Taxpayer filing a single return or a married person filing separately:
Adjusted gross income Credit per exemption
Not over $20,000 $150
Over $20,000 but not over $30,000 $100
Over $30,000 but not over $40,000 $50
(2) Taxpayer filing as a head of household:
Adjusted gross income Credit per exemption
Not over $25,000 $150
Over $25,000 but not over $37,500 $100
Over $37,500 but not over $50,000 $50
(3) Taxpayer filing a joint return under section 235-93 or a surviving spouse:
Adjusted gross income Credit per exemption
Not over $30,000 $150
Over $30,000 but not over $45,000 $100
Over $45,000 but not over $60,000 $50.
(d) For each taxable year beginning after December 31, 2019, each dollar amount contained in subsection (c) shall be increased by an amount equal to that dollar amount multiplied by the percentage, if any, by which the consumer price index for the preceding calendar year exceeds the consumer price index for the second preceding calendar year.
(e) If a rental unit is occupied
by two or more individuals, and more than one individual is able to qualify as
a claimant, the claim for credit shall be based upon a pro rata share of the
(f) The tax credits shall be
deductible from the taxpayer's individual net income tax for the tax year in
which the credits are properly claimed; provided that a husband and wife filing
separate returns for a taxable year for which a joint return could have been
made by them shall claim only the tax credits to which they would have been
entitled had a joint return been filed.
In the event the allowed tax credits exceed the amount of the income tax
payments due from the taxpayer, the excess of credits over payments due shall
be refunded to the taxpayer; provided that allowed tax credits properly claimed
by an individual who has no income tax liability shall be paid to the
individual; and provided further that no refunds or payments on account of the
tax credits allowed by this section shall be made for amounts less than $1.
(g) The director of taxation
shall prepare and prescribe the appropriate form or forms to be used herein,
may require proof of the claim for tax credits, and may adopt rules pursuant to
(h) All of the provisions
relating to assessments and refunds under this chapter and under section
231-23(c)(1) shall apply to the tax credits hereunder.
(i) Claims for tax credits under
this section, including any amended claims thereof, shall be filed on or before
the end of the twelfth month following the taxable year for which the credit
may be claimed."
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $680,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2018-2019 for the department of human services to continue to administer the family assessment center for homeless families.
The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of human services for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $800,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2018-2019 for the state rent supplement program to:
(1) Assist homeless families with minor children or families with minor children at imminent risk of homelessness due to domestic violence to obtain and maintain permanent housing through a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program developed by the Hawaii public housing authority; provided that rental assistance shall be time limited; and provided further that each member, including children, of families receiving rental assistance shall be required to obtain financial case management services from a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified financial counseling organization; and
(2) Cover administrative and personnel costs to operate the program.
The sum appropriated shall be expended by the Hawaii public housing authority for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 5. The Hawaii public housing authority shall develop interim rules without regard to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, for assisting homeless families with minor children or families with minor children at imminent risk of homelessness due to domestic violence to obtain and maintain permanent housing through a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program within the state rent supplement program pursuant to section 4 of this Act.
SECTION 6. The Hawaii public housing authority may procure financial case management and counseling services without regard to chapter 103D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, from a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified financial counseling organization to assist families receiving rental assistance from the housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program in meeting the financial counseling requirement under section 4 of this Act.
SECTION 7. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 8. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2018; provided that section 2 shall be applicable to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2018.
Low-Income Household Renters Tax Credit; Family Assessment Center; Housing Homeless Children Rental Assistance Pilot Program; Appropriation
Expands eligibility and credit amount of the low income-household renters' income tax credit. Appropriates funds for the continued administration of the family assessment center for homeless families and for a housing homeless children rental assistance pilot program. Exempts adoption of interim rules and procurement of services by federally-certified financial counselors from chapters 91 and 103D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, respectively. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.