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David Y.Ige | Protecting our health with expanded training, facilities

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Protecting our health with expanded training, facilities

Posted on January 27, 2022 in Capitol Connection

More doctors and nurses were needed during the pandemic. (Photo by: Queen’s Health Systems)

While we work to maintain our health, we must also strengthen our communities. To do this, we must first help our families in difficulty, to malama pono, make things right for them. This means making sure they can provide the very basics of food, shelter and jobs. This is why our Human Services Department has developed online applications to SNAP Benefits (formerly Food Stamps) and added 32,000 additional families during the pandemic. As many have lost their jobs, we paid out $6.6 billion in unemployment insurance benefits. The pandemic has also resulted in the loss of long-standing jobs for many workers and the pursuit of new careers. To help them, the Ministry of Labor is deploying the Hawaii’i Career Acceleration Navigatorwith its online one-stop shop to help unemployed people find new career and training opportunities.

The pandemic has also highlighted the need for childcare for working families. and how essential it is for many to continue working. To help them, the state Child Care Program Office distributes nearly $80 million to support access to child care and provide much-needed help to young families. These funds will help child care businesses weather the challenges of the pandemic. To help tenants and landlordswe provided $260 million in emergency rent and mortgage assistance to ensure that no family will be evicted because of the pandemic. During this time, the Hawaiian Homes Commission deferred mortgage payments and provided its beneficiaries with rent and utility assistance. The state is also working closely with counties to increase the number of affordable rentals on all islands, including more than a thousand affordable units on neighboring islands since we took office. Two years ago, the legislator created ‘Ohana areas. We have opened 20 locations across the islands which offer a wide range of services for individuals and families. These projects have helped more than 5,500 people statewide, of whom more than 1,300 have been placed directly into permanent housing. . . . But the biggest factor affecting homeownership in Hawaii is supply. That’s why we decided to build 10,000 new homes by 2020, and we did! We also plan to build another 3,000 houses by the end of this year.

We can also strengthen our communities in other ways. Given recent revenue projections, we are calling on the Legislative Assembly to return a portion of these dollars to taxpayers. We want to issue $100 reimbursement checks for each taxpayer and each dependant. For a family of four, that means an extra $400. This way, we will also put $110 million back into our economy, which will also give it a very big boost.

For more, check out the January Capitol Connection newsletter.

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