Nadine K. Nakamura
• Age: 60
• Occupation: State Legislator
• Town of residence: Kapa‘a
• Duration of Kaua‘i residency: 30 years
• Prior experience in govenrment/leadership: Elected and appointed offices: 2016 – current state Representative, state of Hawai‘i; chair, Housing Committee member; Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs Committee member, Transportation Committee member; 2013 – 2016, managing director, County of Kaua‘i, 1,200 employees, 72,000 residents; 2010 – 2013, vice chair, Kaua‘i County Council; Chair, council Planning Committee; vice chair, Finance & Economic Development Committee; volunteer work: Current: Board Member, Pacific Housing Assistance Corporation.
Past: Board Member, Hawai‘i Community Reinvestment Corporation; Chair, Kapa‘a Middle School Community Council; Board Member, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Foundation; Vice Chair, Board Member Hawaii Tourism Authority; Chair, Kapa‘a Elementary School Community Council; Vice Chair State Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawai‘i.
Q: The median price of a single-family home on Kaua‘i is over $1 million, and the County’s 2018 General Plan reported 44% of all households are cost-burdened. (Meaning their housing costs exceeded 30% of their income.) How will you address the affordable housing crisis in your district?
This past legislative session, we approved $600 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; $300 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund; $40 million for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund, $15 million for the ‘Ohana Zone homelessness programs, and $5 million for the Affordable Homeownership Revolving fund.
Taken together, these funds will help to build over 6,000 units of affordable housing in the State of Hawai‘i.
In my district, I’m supporting the development of affordable housing in the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Master Plan. The State has the opportunity to address housing needs for the east side on over 35 acres of vacant ceded lands. In addition to expanding long-term care beds and acute psychiatric beds, we are planning to develop workforce housing, including rental housing for teachers and health care workers, kupuna housing, and supportive housing. The state has approved $19.7 million in water improvements to match county funds to support this development.
On the north shore, the County is aggressively pursuing affordable housing in Kilauea, which I support. There are many excellent nonprofit organizations, including Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity and PAL Kaua‘i, that are pursuing affordable housing projects and scattered site developments throughout the district.
Q: The coronavirus pandemic decimated the tourism industry Kaua‘i – and the state – is so reliant upon. Should your district make economic diversity a priority, and if so, how?
I believe we should continue to support economic diversity in my district, the island of Kaua‘i, and State of Hawai‘i. Economic clusters that we should support include creative technologies, arts and culture, renewable energy, recreation, and food and agriculture. We should also promote niche tourism markets, including health and wellness, ecotourism, cultural tourism, and volunteer tourism.
Every small business should have access to business planning assistance to establish and grow their business. We must prepare our workforce and provide students with career planning and skill-building from K-12. Key to economic diversification is adequately funding the University of Hawai‘i and community colleges to prepare our young adults for diverse career opportunities along with small business training and education.
This past legislative session, we funded the High Tech Development Corporation, and Natural Energy Laboratory of the Pacific. The budget also included funding for Manufacturing Grants, Accelerator program, workforce development, increasing international sales of local products and services. I voted in support of the Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production Tax Credit. I also voted in support of the Conservation Corp. Jobs Program that allows young adults to learn skills such as clearing fish ponds of invasive species, restoring taro fields, and installing fencing to protect watersheds.
Within my district, I have supported funding to assist ‘Aina Ho‘okipa O Kilauea with irrigation infrastructure, assisted Wai‘oli Taro Farmers with funding for stream improvements, and most recently funded Malama Kaua‘i’s food hub in Moloa‘a.
Source: The Garden Island