- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Facing down a projection that Hawaii will need an additional 60,000 housing units to meet long-term demand over the next five years, state lawmakers plan to chip away at deciding how much money they’re willing to spend to solve the problem.

The legislative committees that make decisions about money will take up a slew of bills related to housing development, public housing repairs, rental assistance and low-income tax credits on Monday, mostly in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of that committee, wants the state to set a goal of developing at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units over the next ten years. Her bill, SB2561, is up for a decision in the Ways and Means committee Monday.

Households with low incomes are especially in need of affordable housing, and nearly 95 percent of rental unit tenants have a household income of less than 140 percent of the median Hawaii income, or $80,948 for an individual, according to the bill. About 4,500 affordable rental units were delivered statewide with government assistance from 2004 to 2013, but it’s not enough, supporters say.

Another bill in the committee could potentially make low-income housing tax credits more attractive to investors.

Here are some additional bills lawmakers will consider in the upcoming week:

EQUAL PAY - A bill to bar employers from discriminating against employees by paying lower wages for the same work to members of the opposite sex will be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

POLICE OVERSIGHT - A proposal to create an independent review board to investigate incidents of officer-involved death or serious injuries will be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday afternoon.

LONG-TERM CARE - A bill to create a state tax to fund long-term care is up for decision making in the same committee on Monday afternoon.


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