Media Coverage

Ige Signs Bill to Help Undocumented Immigrants Obtain Driver’s Licenses

The Hawaii law is effective January 1, 2016.

·By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a bill into law that creates a limited purpose driver’s license for people who don’t have documents to prove they are legally allowed to live in the U.S.

The governor signed the measure, House Bill 1007, on Tuesday, according to a press release.

The measure was backed by the Hawaii Coalition for Immigration Reform and Filipino community advocacy groups such as the Filipino American Citizens League. But in addition to immigrants, the law applies to a range of drivers including homeless people and domestic violence victims who may not have the proper documentation.

The law becomes effective January 1, 2016.

Courtesy of Gov. David Ige

Ige-Immigrant

Gov. Ige poses with advocates for a new limited purpose drivers license on June 30.

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/06/ige-signs-bill-to-help-undocumented-immigrants-obtain-drivers-licenses/

Hawaii DOT Settles Driver’s License Exam Lawsuit

Discrimination against foreign-born residents was alleged when translation of some exams was discontinued.

·By CHAD BLAIR

The Hawaii Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) said Friday that a lawsuit was settled regarding the translation of driver’s examinations for vehicle licenses.

United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved the settlement.

In 2013, FACE said it was concerned that speakers of Marshallese, Chuukese and Ilocano were being disenfranchised because exams were not available in those languages.

Faith Action for Community Equity

Marshallese and Chuukese

Marshallese and Chuukese making their case to the Maui DOT in April 2013.

Translations of the driver’s test began in 2001, but they were later suspended after new state laws led to changes in the test. The DOT did, however, provide translations into eight other languages including Japanese and Tagalog.

FACE filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the DOT discriminated against foreign-born residents of Hawaii “by not offering a translated exam for a period of more than five years after previously existing translations were removed from service when additional questions needed to be added to the exam,” according to a joint press release.

For its part, the DOT says it consistently disputed that there was “any discriminatory motive” involved in decision-making about the translated exams. In a statement, DOT Director Ford Fuchigami said his department is committed “to serving all of Hawaii’s residents regardless of who they are or where they are from.”

The DOT currently offers the examination in 13 languages, said to make Hawaii the only state under 2 million people to offer the exam in more than 10 languages, including Hawaiian.

FACE said it is pleased with the outcome of the case.

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/05/hawaii-dot-settles-drivers-exam-lawsuit/

Push policies to allow more homes

Push policies to allow more homes 

POSTED on StarAdvertiser.com: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 19, 2014

So much demand, so little supply. That’s the dire bottom line when it comes to truly affordable housing for Hawaii’s families — and unless work on policy changes begins today to address the shortfall, a growing number of keiki o ka aina of this and future generations will be forced out of Hawaii.

This alarm in the local housing crisis was sounded at Saturday’s daylong Housing Summit, focusing on how to produce and retain housing, especially rentals, that local workers can afford. It drew some 220 people with diverse interests, including government officials, politicians, developers and ministers.

A gamut of things must start taking root today — including the political will and leadership to drive harder bargains to produce housing that more closely reflects Hawaii’s working-family realities. Some 24,000 more housing units are needed in the coming years, with three-fourths of that needed for those earning less than 80 percent of area median income (AMI), or about $76,650 for a family of four.

Essential will be creative thinking as well as favorable eyes on new options, such as:

» Easing restrictions on Oahu homeowners on the number and types of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, allowed on their property.

Now gaining momentum in the City Council and city administration, this idea to help address the affordable rental demand would open the ADUprocess to more neighborhoods, allow for detached-unit ADUs, and make units available to nonrelatives. Under current “ohana zoning” allowed in certain Oahu neighborhoods, an ADU must be attached or part of an existing dwelling, and be occupied by relatives.

More discussion will be needed, of course, on the ramifications of easing ADU rules: How far it should go and what parameters should be set so as not to unduly burden and disrupt residential neighborhoods. But it’s a concept worth pursuing, and the Caldwell administration rightly sees it as a major component of its Islandwide Housing Strategy.

» Increasing the length of time that affordable units must remain affordable, and lowering the definition of “affordable” and “reserved” housing.

Currently, government mostly requires that affordability be retained anywhere between just five to 15 years; that needs to increase to at least 30 to 60 years, as boldly proposed by the city administration. Also, project approvals should be conditioned with a higher percentage of units in the target 80 percent AMI range.

In Kakaako, the “reserved housing” definition is too high: up to 140 percent of AMI. It is here, in fact, that Gov.-elect David Ige has publicly pledged more help for working families.

 

Affordable housing summit draws hundreds to State Capitol

By Ben Gutierrez

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –There’s been a lot of attention given to new condominium construction in areas like Kakaako, but how many people can actually afford some of those units? That was a question tackled by a summit on affordable housing at the State Capitol.”There’s a lot of discussion about the high-end housing we see going up in the urban core,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. ” and people are wondering, ‘Hey, what about housing for the rest of us?'”Many of those people showed up at Saturday’s summit organized by Faith Action for Community Equity, also known as FACE.

There was some discussion about the homeless, with one possible solution coming in the form of renovated container units, turned into housing.

“We need to take away the stigma of homeless housing away from the subject,” said Craig Chapman of Lanihuli Community Development Corporation, which has been building the container homes. “What we’re really trying to look at now is how can we get the working poor families get back into their community.”

But it’s not just the working poor or homeless. It includes the middle class as well, according to organizers.

“Your nurses, your firemen, your policemen, people you don’t necessarily consider ‘needy’ that actually struggle with affordable housing,” said James Fitzpatrick of Hawaii Health Connector and a community organizer with FACE.

Right now, 30 percent of new housing projects must be affordable for people making 140 percent of the area’s median income, or about $134,000 for a family of four. According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Honolulu last month was $690,000.

Building housing that’s more affordable will be a challenge for a variety of reasons, including community opposition.

“When you try to build an affordable housing project in a community, you oftentimes run into NIMBY’s who don’t want you to build it there for many different reasons,” said John White of Pacific Resource Partnership.

But the discussion has begun, and organizers are hopeful.

“People have been talking about this for a very long time,” said Fitzpatrick. “So the step after talking — we need to have actions and decisions.”

View videos and more photos over on the HawaiiNewsNow page: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/27395936/affordable-housing-summit-draws-hundreds-to-state-capitol

Campaign Corner: No on Ballot Measure 4

In 2012, FACE’s Education Team fought to protect junior kindergarten, giving the state time to come up with a better plan for our keiki.  In September 2014, FACE hosted Dr. Cliff Tanabe of the UH Education Department, Joan Husted former HSTA Exec Director and members of Parents for Public Schools to debate the value of “Question 4”, the constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be spent on private early childhood education programs.

At the end of the session, the group voted to recommend a “no” vote on the amendment. FACE leader Mary Weir explains her reservations about Amendment #4 in her October 28 Op Ed in Civil Beat.