Lawmakers to discuss funding for housing, long-term care

Lawmakers to discuss funding for housing, long-term care

HONOLULU – Facing down a projection that Hawaii will need an additional 60,000 housing units to meet long-term demand over the next five years, state lawmakers plan to chip away at deciding how much money they’re willing to spend to solve the problem.

The legislative committees that make decisions about money will take up a slew of bills related to housing development, public housing repairs, rental assistance and low-income tax credits today.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, wants the state to set a goal of developing at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units over the next 10 years. Her bill, SB2561, is up for a decision by her committee today.

Households with low incomes are especially in need of affordable housing, and nearly 95 percent of rental unit tenants have a household income of less than 140 percent of the median state income, or $80,948 for an individual, according to the bill. About 4,500 affordable rental units were delivered statewide with government assistance from 2004 to 2013, but it’s not enough, supporters say.

Another bill in the committee could potentially make low-income housing tax credits more attractive to investors.

Here are some additional bills lawmakers will consider this week:

*Equal pay

A bill to bar employers from discriminating against employees by paying lower wages for the same work to members of the opposite sex will be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

*Police oversight

A proposal to create an independent review board to investigate incidents of officer-involved death or serious injuries will be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee today.

*Long-term care

A bill to create a state tax to fund long-term care is up for a decision in the same committee today.

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