URGENT- Save Our Services!

Aloha Friends,

As legislators prepare for a brief legislative budgeting session beginning on May 11, 2020, we must be united and strong in advocating for the preservation of all funding for homelessness services and other basic social services, including mental health services.

The State is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. This crisis will affect everyone, but households that are ALICE* or below will be hit hardest. (48% of all households in the State are ALICE or below. In Hawaii County, 55% of all households are ALICE or below.)

We know from the Great Recession that social welfare programs are often significantly cut in efforts to balance State and County budgets. These cuts have long lasting negative impacts. Using Point-in-Time count data, Hawaii saw a continual increase in homelessness in the seven year period after the great recession,  2009 through 2016. During those seven years, homelessness increased by over 30% statewide. In 2017 homelessness began to decrease in the state as the legislature increased funding for homeless programs. However, the number of homeless individuals has not yet decreased to pre-recession levels.

The Coronavirus Crisis will force more people into homelessness as they lose jobs and the ability to pay rent. ALICE households are particularly vulnerable to losing their housing.

As a community our job is to “Flatten the Curve” on homelessness. Homelessness is going to increase. We must minimize that increase by continuing to fully fund homeless services and other safety net programs, including mental health services.

We encourage each one of you to contact your representatives in the Senate and House and tell them:

  1. We can’t afford to cut social services at a time when there is more need than ever before. (One-third of Hawaii’s workers are currently unemployed.)

  2. Cutting social services means even more lost jobs, and even greater weight on the safety net–pulling out people who are holding the net and throwing them on the pile of folks that are already weighing it down.

  3. It’s more costly to cut services than it is to keep providing them. The State — because we are in an emergency — can borrow money at extremely low rates to help balance the budget and minimize programmatic cuts. The cost of short sighted social service cuts have long term negative financial and human cost We — the State —  can either borrow money at extremely low interest rates to pay for services now, or we — the State — can effectively borrow from our future. It costs  more financially in the mid to long run to cut services and the long term financial and human costs as a result of these cuts are significant.

Contact your local leaders and ask them to support strong social services for a resilient Hawai’i. Your voice is an important part of our community’s social safety net.

Governor Ige
Executive Chambers, State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: 808-586-0034
Fax: 808-586-0006

Lt. Governor Green
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0255
Fax: (808) 586-0231

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono
B40E Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6361

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
G11 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3934

Congressman Ed Case
2443 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-2726

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
300 Ala Moana Blvd.
5-104 Prince Kuhio Bldg.
Honolulu, HI 96850
Phone: (808) 541-1986
Fax: (808) 538-0233

Senator Russell E. Ruderman
Senate District 2
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 216
phone: 808-586-6890
fax: 808-586-6899
senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Richard H.K. Onishi
House District 3
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 404
phone: 808-586-6120
fax: 808-586-6121
reponishi@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura
repsanbuenaventura@Capitol.hawaii.gov
House District 4
Hawaii State Capitol
Room 442
phone: 808-586-6530
fax: 808-586-6531

Ways and Means Committee:
Chair Donovan M. Dela Cruz
Senate District 22
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 208
phone: 808-586-6090
fax: 808-586-6091
sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov

Vice Chair Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
Senate District 5
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 221
phone: 808-586-7344
fax: 808-586-7348
senkeithagaran@capitol.hawaii.gov

 

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Other Districts Look-up:

https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/contact.aspx

For Hawaii reps social media accounts, visit: https://portal.ehawaii.gov/government/elected-officials/

Find your local reps visit: https://findmyreps.net/

*ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. It is a term coined in an extensive report released by the Aloha United Way.

Upcoming Legislation (Bill Number TBA):

Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act
Last updated: 05/07/2020