Blangiardi focuses on housing, first responders in State of the City address
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi delivered his third State of the City address Tuesday, putting an emphasis on efforts to bolster affordable housing and expand the ranks of first responders.
Since 2022, the city says it has been the driving force behind more than 380 affordable apartments on Oahu -- with hundreds more underway.
“We don’t need to conduct a survey of the people to know that affordable housing is a burning priority,” Blangiardi said.
“Far too many of our neighbors are voting with their feet, leaving Hawaii because they cannot afford to raise their families here. This is not a whimper, or a cry for help — this is a primal scream.”
Blangiardi also outlined plans to expand the city’s CORE program, which helps homeless people ― especially those in crisis ― in hopes of diverting them from ERs and from jails.
“The program helped house nearly 300 people. They treated over 1,000 people in crisis, providing a continuum of care to homeless individuals,” he said.
Other key elements of his speech:
- The mayor said Denise Iseri-Matsubara would serve as the new director of the city Office of Housing and Homelessness. She’s currently the head of the state Housing Finance and Development Corp.
- Blangiardi pledged to do more to support first responders, including by adding 50 officers by June and 120 in the new fiscal year.
- And announced the creation of a task force to determine if EMS and Ocean Safety should be separate agencies.
- Along the way, he said he wanted to significantly expand EMS, starting with the hiring of 48 new EMTs and launch of two new ambulance units.
The mayor also made a Honolulu rail announcement, saying the system will begin interim operations in July, offering service from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, as the rest of the line is built through the urban core.
Roger Morton, director of the city Department of Transportation Services, said the interim rail service will be complemented by extended bus services from the stadium to downtown.
“We’re going to have buses that run every 10 minutes to try to match the rail frequency, which is going to run (every) 10 minutes,” he said.
Morton estimated that the initial daily ridership for the Kapolei to Aloha Stadium segment will be 12,000 to 15,000. But he said daily ridership will grow to about 85,000 when service is extended to Kakaako.
Blangiardi also sought to be frank with residents, saying the city is facing significant headwinds ― including in the form of longstanding problems that have been allowed to fester for years.
“The challenges that we’re up against are very real and will require time to remedy,” he said.
“But I have no doubt that the team that we have in place, and the commitment to solving tough problems that we all share together, will leave a lasting impact on the City and County of Honolulu — for generations to come.”
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