KAILUA-KONA — Homelessness is still an emergency in the state of Hawaii.
Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday the issuance of a supplementary emergency proclamation, which extended his original emergency proclamation on homelessness until April 13.
The governor made the initial proclamation on Dec. 14, 2018.
“Notwithstanding the termination of a disaster emergency relief period, any contracts, agreements, procurements, programs, or employment of personnel entered into, started, amended, or continued by reason of the provisions of my proclamations relating to this emergency shall continue in full force and effect…” Ige wrote.
Proclamations of this sort allow for quick allocation or re-allocation of funds to support existing efforts to curb the emergency, in this case homelessness, or to get new initiatives off the ground.
Roy Takemoto, who serves as executive assistant to Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim and works frequently on homeless solutions, said the proclamation will aid county efforts to develop a 5-acre area of Village 9 off Kealakehe Parkway for a temporary homeless encampment while work continues toward the eventual permanent, 15-acre build out.
The proclamation allows the county to procure a separate contract with master planners for the site, which will also include a 15-acre state affordable housing project and the adjacent Kealakehe Regional Park, so they can move quickly through the planning process for the 5-acre temporary shelter.
Current timelines could see construction begin on that portion of the plan as early as May. The proclamation also expedites community involvement, which will occur through the environmental assessment process, Takemoto explained.
This will allow for public comment on the project before any work with regards to the homeless encampment element, temporary or permanent, is carried out.
Takemoto said the county will not move forward with any such work before the public is provided a chance to weigh in.