PHOCUSED’s exceptionally knowledgeable and professionally accomplished Board of Directors and team underpins our ability to effectively advocate for our members, their consumers, and the community as a whole.
PHOCUSED’s approach in the 2018 Legislative Session was “Continuing the Fight for Vulnerable Populations.” Please see our Outcomes Overview below, as well as our original Policy Agenda, which was highly aligned with House and Senate priorities.
PHOCUSED is proud to have worked closely with peer advocates, member agencies, legislative leaders, and community stakeholders in our 2018 legislative efforts. Over the last year, we participated in a broad range of collaborative forums on crucial topics for vulnerable populations, worked diligently with our state’s policy-makers and officials from the administration, and showed a consistent grasp of the issues. As such, PHOCUSED was called on during the session by both legislators for information, as well as members of the press for our insights.
In 2018, the House and Senate Leadership stuck closely to their announced goals of Homelessness & Housing and the Sustainable Development Goals, respectively. These priorities were lauded by PHOCUSED before session began in our January Newsletter. Likewise, we congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing measures and appropriations that PROTECT HAWAII’S OHANA, CHILDREN, UNDER-SERVED, ELDERLY, AND DISABLED.
Regarding PHOCUSED’s Organizational Focuses listed above, Homelessness and Affordable Housing had banner year with $200 million dollars added to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to serve as gap financing for development projects and existing Homelessness-related programs receiving $15 million in the budget. Roughly $40 million was also appropriated in other bills for Ohana Zones, additional LEAD projects, a new Assessment Center, partnerships with hospitals, and the Coordinated Statewide Homelessness Initiative.
Above: Executive Director, Natalie Okeson, with Governor Ige and his Working Group on Housing at the HB2748 Bill Signing.
These funding levels are historic in nature! However, we believe that this funding represents a tremendous increase in commitment to address our affordable housing and homelessness crises rather than a finish line, and we remain committed to helping Legislative Leadership continue to find ways to invest in the most vulnerable among us. In addition, we seek to work closely with our policy-makers in 2019 to enact many worthy pieces of legislation that did not pass this session, some of which may have been impacted by the need for disaster relief funding, such as the pilot program for Children of Incarcerated Parents, Paid Family Leave with Progressive Wage Replacement, Shallow Long-term Rental Subsidies, replacement of the Adult Dental Care benefit, and enhanced Tax Credits for Hawaii’s working poor.
MAHALO to our Members, Peer Advocates, and Legislative Champions for their Support!