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Mayor declares all options open in pursuit of attainable housing

By Staff | Jul 4, 2019

WAILUKU – Mayor Michael Victorino declared last week Wednesday that there’s a dire need for housing units in Maui County and that all options are open as his administration is poised to present its Strategic Housing Plan to the Maui County Council.

“There’s nothing off the table because we’ve got to open the door and look at everything,” Mayor Victorino said.

Estimates put the need for housing units at from 13,000 to 15,000 units by 2025.

“Our working people have been left out for many, many years in many of our housing plans,” he said during a news conference Wednesday morning. “Yes, we build for our seniors. Yes, we build for our disabled. But the working people… They’re not going to come to a council meeting. They’re working two and three jobs. They’re busy surviving. They’re busy raising their families. We don’t hear from them.”

Victorino said he has already instructed all County of Maui departments to work in conjunction, rather than in compartments, to create more housing. To that end, the mayor has created the Attainable Housing for Maui Nui Working Group, led by Managing Director Sandy Baz, which is a working group of county departments to coordinate efforts to create attainable housing.

“No more silos,” Mayor Victorino said. “I stand here ready to work with everyone – council members, nonprofits, the private sector and state agencies. I think this is an effort, finally, where I see everyone working for one purpose: housing for our people.”

Department of Housing and Human Concerns Director Lori Tsuhako expressed appreciation for Mayor Victorino’s support for a multi-agency, multi-pronged approach to more housing creation.

“I cannot express to you how it lifts my heart to hear the mayor say that this is a very big community effort,” she said. “It’s a lift that requires not just the Department of Housing and Human Concerns, because everyone here and everyone in the community should know that the department will not do this alone. It requires the efforts and the collaboration, the cooperation and the diligence of people throughout our community.”

Tsuhako said her department’s strategic plan, which will be discussed in greater detail with County Council members, will analyze available data on the needs in Maui County for affordable housing.

The plan also will look at short-term and long-term strategic objectives to increase the inventory of housing units.

“The major thing about the plan that makes me feel much more confident and much more comfortable is that the mayor is saying you guys need to do this together,” she said.

“There may be disagreements. There may be differences in perspective about what the best way is to move forward, but the mayor is saying, ‘Move forward,’ and I think he is pushing all of us in that direction. So, Mr. Mayor, I appreciate that vote of confidence and the authority that you allow us to do these projects.”