"Lucky we live Hawaii." For many living in Hawaii, this statement is very true, but for a growing number of Hawaii residents, every day is a struggle to make ends meet and to keep a roof over their families' heads. Thousands of individuals and families find themselves living outside, with no protection from the rain and the sun, with no privacy and their dignity slipping away. We live in an age where we can send people to the moon and far beyond, yet there are thousands of families living in unsafe conditions right here in our own State. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 individuals are homeless on any given night here in Hawaii and more than 14, 000 experience homelessness at some time throughout the year. More than 35,000 affordable units are needed to address the needs of those who are homeless and those who are considered to be the "hidden homeless'.
Affordable housing has become a top priority for Hawaii's policy makers over the last few years, and we are making strides towards ending chronic homelessness and increasing the number of affordable housing units available.
But we have much more work to do. It is imperative that we look for long term solutions to homelessness while still providing short term care and shelter for those living out on our streets and on our beaches today. Key initiatives that are being proposed include allocating a larger percentage of the dedicated conveyance tax to the development of affordable housing, appropriating funds to repair vacant public housing units, and providing incentives for developers to create new affordable housing units. These initiatives, along with the assistance of the community will help us to crawl out of our housing crisis.
No longer can we say "not in my backyard' for the issue of homelessness and the need for affordable housing has affected every community throughout the Hawaiian Islands.