Council considering overriding Roth’s veto on housing program revolving fund
Mayor Mitch Roth vetoed a measure that made wording in the county housing program’s revolving fund code more specific about how it can be used. County Council on Wednesday, July 6, will revisit the matter – and may consider overriding Roth’s disapproval.
Roth vetoed Bill 152 on June 13.
The legislation repealed existing provisions of the housing revolving fund and established nine specific uses for the fund. The board gave final approval to the measure at its May 18 meeting with a 7-2 vote.
The measure states that the revolving fund must be used for the following:
- Planning, design and development of affordable housing either by the county or by non-profit housing development partners.
- Exercise the redemption option in favor of the County contained in any transportation document and pay the cost of maintaining, repairing, leasing or reselling units purchased by the County thereunder.
- Acquisition of vacant land for use as affordable housing that can be developed by the county or with non-profit partners.
- Acquisition of existing structures for use as affordable housing.
- Rehabilitation of existing structures currently used as affordable housing or acquired by the county for use as affordable housing.
- Infrastructure to support the development of affordable housing.
- Grants, subsidies and loans to support very low-income, low-income and moderate-income households with upfront costs for rental housing or mortgage financing.
- Grants, subsidies and loans to support very low-income, low-income and moderate-income households with rent assistance or mortgage payments to prevent homelessness or foreclosure.
- Deed purchase restrictions on private properties limiting resale to qualified buyers at resale values for low-income and moderate-income households in perpetuity, as established by the Housing and Housing Authority administrative rules communautary development.
The original wording included in the revolving fund code was much less specific, indicating that the fund would be used to pay for things such as housing development and exercise of the buyout option.
“Bill 152 simply expands the permitted uses of the county housing program revolving fund, so we are simply adding seven uses to this fund beyond the original two, which were affordable housing development and the takeover,” Councilor Holeka Inaba said at the May 18 city council meeting.
Office of Housing and Community Development administrator Susan Kunz told council at that meeting that the code’s previous language was very broad and basically said the department could use funds for housing development. Kunz said the new language does not prevent the office from doing programs planned for the future and describes what the county has done in the past.
“As I look at the bulleted items that are described, it basically describes housing development work,” Kunz said. “You know, another way of looking at it is if it doesn’t produce a lot of change, maybe it doesn’t need to change at all. It really won’t change the work that we do. Not that I can say.
Councilman Tim Richards asked Kunz if the new language would limit the housing office. He feared the measure could tie the ministry’s hands in certain circumstances. Other board members and Kunz shared this concern.
“That’s where the unintended consequences could happen,” Kunz replied.
She said that although the housing office did not have a situation where it had the ability to help support housing production or development, but could not because its hands were tied by language like this, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. . Kunz said the breadth of the fund’s original language has allowed his agency to do a lot of work, and the broader language could give him more leeway when it comes to office work.
“Maybe, why are we going to change the language?” she asked. “Even though I’m saying right now that sounds pretty innocent – that pretty much describes what I did – but the unintended consequence of something happening because we’re saying you can only use it for these things might happen; and then I will be attached. So I think that’s definitely something that should be considered.
Councilwoman Heather Kimball told council at the May 18 meeting that the intent of the bill was in no way intended to restrict the activities of Kunz Department and in many ways was intended to be a signal as to to the county’s housing priorities and keep ideas alive. for additional opportunities that arise.
“Keeping people in housing is an example, or helping them get their installments, really looking at income levels, making sure we’re addressing real affordability relative to the middle class, etc.,” said Kimball.
Roth said in a letter to the board informing members of his veto of Bill 152 that he disagreed with the changes to the revolving fund code and agreed with what Kunz said at the May 18 meeting. He does not recommend any changes to the revolving fund code.
“The amendment provides language changes that delineate specific activities and uses of the revolving fund that may limit the Office of Housing and Community Development’s ability to provide much-needed affordable housing,” Roth said in his letter to council advising members of his veto.
Roth said in the letter that the county needs to expand its ability to partner and consider all housing development options.
“We all agree that the need for housing is great,” he said in the letter. “So much so that it requires an approach that incorporates all parties involved.”
The mayor said the revolving fund’s original code language provides the broadest language to carry out its priorities to meet the county’s affordable housing needs.
“This broad language also minimizes unintended consequences or failure to consider all possible opportunities and tying our hands unnecessarily,” Roth said in the letter.
Inaba and Kimball originally introduced Bill 152 and are asking the council to reconsider the measure and possibly override Roth’s veto. A waiver of the veto would require two-thirds of council members to vote in favor.
Roth told Big Island Now on Tuesday, July 5 that Bill 152 creates restrictive rules of engagement, is counterintuitive and stifles the county’s housing efforts. He said that by considering overriding his veto, the council would be choosing to undermine the judgment and opinion of the county housing office.
“Instead of listening to those who understand how implementing this rule change would work, they are choosing to rely on their secular understanding of housing and development,” the mayor said via email. “It is beneath our elected officials and not in the best interest of our community. It would behoove the council to remember that every law or rule they make regarding our services can impede the ability of this service to carry out its mission to the best of its abilities – ultimately harming our residents in the process. .
Roth is asking council to reconsider reviewing Bill 152 until a full report on Chapter 11 of the county code, which deals with housing, is written by a consultant, saying the report “could have a more substantial and significant impact”.
“It may also provide the appropriate time to fully consider whether the revolving fund is the appropriate vehicle to house and administer future activities related to housing production/development,” the mayor said in the email.
Inaba said Tuesday afternoon in an email to Big Island Now that Bill 152 expands the use of the housing revolving fund by clarifying that it can be used to enable the purchase of vacant land, the rehabilitation of existing structures, grants, grants and loans. It also adds in perpetuity restrictions for resale to low- and middle-income households.
“Council should follow through on its original decision to pass Bill 152 to enable the highest and best use of all revolving fund funds,” Inaba said in his email.
The board meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the county building on Aupuni Street in Hilo. The meeting can also be viewed online.