Honolulu to consider paying homeowners to house homeless

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A City Councilman is eyeing as much as $15 million in city funds for a project that would pay homeowners to build a rental unit on their property for the homeless.

It's called the "granny flats motion" Under the proposal, homeowners would be required to rent the space they build — at least partially with government funds — to someone who is homeless for a given period of time. And to jumpstart the process, permitting would be streamlined.

City Councilman Joey Manahan is a strong proponent of the idea, and thinks it could work on Oahu.

"In this case the homeowner would be the property manager," he said.

Los Angeles County launched a similar program last month. There, participants are given up to $75,000 to go towards construction.

Others who already have a unit are eligible for up to $50,000 in subsidies to bring it up to code.

"We'd probably start with the same baseline that LA does with $75,000 per ADU or per unit," Manahan said. "We do have $5 million in our budget to start low-barrier programs."

On top of that there is another $8 to $10 million in the city's capital improvements budget that Manahan says could go towards the project.

Those funds will lapse if they're not used by the end of the year.

So would there be support for a project this like. Several people said they liked the proposal

"I think a lot of people would be interested," said Aiea resident Robin Pires.

But, others added, there would need to be stipulations.

"Depending on if the person is on drugs and a person is trying to make something good for themselves," said Ewa resident Shane Phillips.

Others said they simply couldn't help because they're renters themselves or they don't have the space.

This proposal is set to be up for discussion at the City Council on Sept. 27.

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