KAILUA-KONA — Lance Niimi, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaii County’s homeless coordinator, has resigned his post.
Niimi’s resignation was effective as of March 31, per a press release sent by the mayor’s office Wednesday. Kim praised his former employee’s work ethic as Niimi grappled with one of the county’s toughest issues during a time of substantial transition.
“I really appreciate the work he’s done, but I know it took its toll,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how many times he went to Kona to sleep at the shelter because we just didn’t have the money for security and those kind of things.”
When Kim assumed the reins as Hawaii Island’s top governmental official for the third time, he initially tapped Niimi to serve as assistant housing administrator at the Office of Housing and Community Development.
But shortly into Niimi’s stint in government, the mayor began tasking the long-time social worker with projects involving the island’s substantial homeless population.
Niimi said the complexity of the issue created an intense demand on his time and attention, which he envisioned only growing larger as the county tries to implement new methods to tackle the problem.
“The timing was good for me,” Niimi said of his decision to step down. “We had just closed Camp Kikaha and I saw it was going to be much more than I could give down the road. … I’ll take a month off and pray on it and re-stabilize my life, then see what will be next for me.”
Kim said he’s working with the housing department to help firmly establish the duties of what the release described as a “very important job amid our spiraling homeless problem.”
“I have nobody in mind until we clearly define what this person will do,” the mayor said.