Issues

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Each year my heart breaks as lifelong friends move because they do not see a future here any longer. People find it hard to found a business, start a family, or purchase a place to call home. The so-called paradise tax weighs more and more heavily with each passing year. And no cost is more front-of-mind than that of housing.

One impact of the lack of affordable housing is that Hawaiʻi’s population is in freefall. Compared to other states, Hawaiʻi has the 3rd fastest rate of population decline. Ending Hawaiʻi’s Housing shortage will take time and won’t be easy but it is a priority to me that every resident can afford a place to call home. One problem is that today Hawaiʻi builds many homes, but you would not know it as many are either not affordable or built by private, wealthy investors and their clients.

In 2021 I introduced and passed a resolution through the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board calling upon our communities’s elected officials to support the ALOHA Homes proposal which would create low-cost homes only available for sale to Hawaiʻi residents in high density urban areas on state land away from current low density communities.

As State Senator, I would support:

Protecting our residential neighborhoods from monster homes and the proliferation of illegal vacation rentals

Building more affordable rentals

Expanding on Section 8 vouchers and to help those on the waitlist

Encouraging more housing below 140% AMI

Exploring options to tax vacant, out-of-state property and their owners

HOMELESSNESS

Tragically, Hawaiʻi struggles with one of the highest rates of homelessness per capita in the nation. From 2017-2020 I served on the Board of Directors from RYSE, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating a youth access center and shelter services in Kailua, Oʻahu. During my time there, I provided updates on pertinent legislative matters and shepharded legislation that ended an effective prohibition on service providers offering overnight shelter to unaccompanied youth experiencing Homelessness. Recently, as Chair of the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board I worked with my members to establish a Homelessness Committee.

As State Senator, I would support:

Taking greater advantage of CMS’s 1115 waivers and CMMI grants to utilize Medicaid funds for supportive services around housing, which could save $300,000,000 in Medicaid spending per year.

Establishing more facilities and programs akin to Hawaiʻi Homeless Healthcare Hui (H4), which would expand access for the homeless individuals living with mental illness.

Ensuring rental assistance programs are available to help more individuals and families from losing their housing in the first place, especially during disasters such as the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

PAID SICK LEAVE

PAID SICK LEAVE

The need to take time off to care for ill family members or a personal medical matter is universal. It is shameful that 100,000’s of employees are working without paid sick leave during a pandemic. They should not have to decide between going to work with the risk of infecting others or staying at home and foregoing their wage. For most families in Hawaiʻi, missing a day at work will create financial hardships, jeopardizing their housing situation or ability to buy groceries.

This is the everyday reality for many working families in Hawaiʻi. We can and should change this by ensuring that all workers have access to sick leave for themselves, to care for ill family members, or even in the case of the death of a family member.

HONORING OUR KŪPUNA

Our kūpuna are near and dear to my heart. My first job in high school was working at the Regency at Puakea, a retirement and assisted living facility on Kauaʻi. While I lost both of my grandmothers to Alzheimer’s disease before I was old enough to know either of them, I know the impact of the incredible loss on my family.

That is why I was honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Public Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association - Hawaiʻi. In this role, I spearheaded state and federal Alzheimer’s advocacy efforts in Hawaiʻi, led advocacy days, served on working groups, and collaborated with legislators and non-profit leaders.

During my time I shepherded the passage of legislation establishing the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia Coordinator position within the Executive Office on Aging and improved dementia training standards for first responders. Most importantly to me, I coached caregivers, family members affected by the disease, and even some living with dementia find their voice to advocate on their own behalf at hearings and meetings with legislators. To be a part of this organization when the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease was a humbling experience.

As State Senator, I would support:

Action to adopt the recommendations of the Hawaii 2025: State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias into law

Expanding the Kupuna Care and Kupuna Caregivers programs which support our elders and their working caregivers

Conducting a new study on public long-term care model as a first step towards ensuring all kūpuna have the resources to live with dignity