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Hawaiʻi County Council moves forward with housing credit audit

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The Hawaiʻi County Council has forged ahead with an audit into how its Office of Housing and Community Development issues and uses affordable housing credits.

This comes after an affordable housing credit scheme came to light earlier this summer. Four have been charged in a hustle that swindled the county out of $11 million, and no built housing.

Councilmember Holeka Goro Inaba originally sponsored the audit resolution, requesting an aggressive audit into the program.

The scope of the audit has narrowed since its introduction after county auditor Tyler Benner and fellow councilmembers feared interference with the ongoing federal investigation.

During a council meeting earlier in September, Councilmember Heather Kimball said the audit now creates firmer boundaries.

"We had a good discussion about this in committee. (Councilmember Inaba) was receptive and amended the resolution to comply with the concerns that auditor Benner had about potential conflicts with the FBI investigation," Kimball said.

Now, with the revised audit, Kimball said she hopes there will be a clearer picture of what's going on with the county.

"The auditor is on board, the Office of Housing and Community Development is on board and I think we are all looking forward to some clarity and transparency and accountability with respect to the housing credits under the current circumstances," Kimball said.

Another third-party consultant is separately reviewing the Office of Housing and Community Development. That report is expected this fall.

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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