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Ikaika Anderson, Green's pick to lead DHHL, on fulfilling $600M spending plan

ikaika anderson DHHL
Office of Gov. Josh Green
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FILE - Ikaika Anderson speaks at a press conference about the return of about 360 acres on Molokaʻi from the U.S. Air Force to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Jan. 13, 2023.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission is hoping for an extension to spend the $600 million that the state Legislature set aside for the agency in 2022.

Newly appointed Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Director Ikaika Anderson said Wednesday he will work diligently with the existing timeline.

But if an extension were to be offered, the commission has already voted unanimously to accept it.

Under the law that appropriated the $600 million, the DHHL has until June 2025 to spend the state funds and deliver homesteading opportunities to qualified Native Hawaiians.

Anderson also addressed concerns about how the city’s construction permit backlog might impact future DHHL housing projects.

"The Hawaiian Homes Commission and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands recognizes the counties, City and County of Honolulu included, are overtaxed. We get that. Part of my five-point plan is to realign our current assets and work with other departments including our counties," he said.

IkaikaAnderson_011823.jpg
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
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Ikaika Anderson, Gov. Josh Green's pick to head the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, at Hawaiʻi Public Radio with The Conversation host Catherine Cruz on Jan. 18, 2023.

"At DHHL, we can self-certify we've had these conversations, and self-certifying while still abiding by all county building codes is something that we can do. And then working with the counties going forward with our infrastructure hookups, we are exploring that option," Anderson said.

Anderson also said the Hawaiian Homes Commission declined to move forward with mortgage assistance for properties outside of DHHL property for the time being.

Anderson's appointment still needs state Senate approval, though no dates have been set for his confirmation hearing.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 18, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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