Council approves $4B budget with big allocations for affordable housing, homeless outreach

The budget also includes $1.3 million to start dismantling the Haiku Stairs.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 9:40 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 12:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council unanimously a $4 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes more than $50 million for affordable housing and homeownership efforts.

Oahu faces an estimated shortage of 22,000 housing units in the next three years.

More than $23 million will go toward housing, healthcare and outreach for the homeless.

In video responses to the budget approval, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he’s focused on filling many of the 2,000 vacancies in five city departments, including 300 in the Honolulu Police Department alone.

“I think we’ve made some great moves on staffing as far as budgeting, and really looking to streamline and not make it as difficult for people to get hired by the city,” Blangiardi said.

“I’m excited about that and what’s to come of it.”

The budget also includes $1.3 million to start dismantling the Haiku Stairs. The mayor said it’s the right thing to do, but it is still upsetting many hikers.

“We are perplexed and disappointed that the council has moved forward on this, contrary to the majority will of the public,” said Sean Pager, president of the group Friends of Haiku Stairs.

The new spending plan comes as tourism booms and tax collections are surging, but high fuel costs and inflation are also looming.

“I’m not saying that the next year is going to be easier, or any years are going to be easier, because we have to make sure that these programs that we are supporting in this budget will continue to be sustainable,” said City Council member Radiant Cordero.

While some council members are cautious, Blangiardi is confident.

“I absolutely plan on signing the budget bills,” he said. “I feel like this budget here, which will really be the (fiscal year) 23 budget, is a budget that’s reflective of what we want to get accomplished.”

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