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Mayor prepares to release housing plan

The Maui News

Mayor Michael Victorino declared 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,” Victorino said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

A 2016 state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimated that Maui needed nearly 14,000 housing units between 2015 and 2025 to keep up with growing demand.

“Our working people have been left out for many, many years in many of our housing plans,” he said. “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 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.

Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Human Concerns is preparing to release its strategic plan, which will be discussed in greater detail with county council members, Director Lori Tsuhako said.

The plan will analyze available data on the needs in Maui County for affordable housing. It 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,” she said.