5 Things Hawaii: Workforce pipeline, Affordable housing funds, UH Health Policy Initiative


Emily Boerger


Tomorrow is the last scheduled day of the 2022 Legislative Session. With that in mind, I wanted to extend a big thank you to Nicole Pasia who leads our Hawaii health care reporting at State of Reform. She’s been steeped in policy and budget conversations for the past few months and has had her finger on the pulse of what’s going on at the capitol.

If you have story tips or ideas for Nicole, you can reach out to her here!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. Q&A: Colleen Leopoldino, HAH

Colleen Leopoldino is the new Manager of Workforce Development at the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, where she works with HAH’s Healthcare Workforce Initiative as the liaison to high school programs and other workforce initiatives. In this Q&A, Leopoldino and Janna Hoshide, HAH Director of Workforce Development, discuss efforts to strengthen the health workforce education pipeline and address the state’s ongoing workforce shortage.

HAH is particularly focused on creating alternate pathways for individuals to receive education and job training more efficiently and seamlessly. They describe these as “earn and learn” opportunities. “How do [individuals] continue to earn and learn at the same time and progress towards higher education, higher credentials, or post-secondary education and pursue career advancement at the same time in an employed model?” Hoshide asked.


2. Lawmakers set to approve close to $1 billion in affordable housing funds

In the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers are set to approve close to $1 billion in funding for affordable housing through a series of bills. The funding includes $600 million to develop housing for native Hawaiians on the Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands waiting list and $300 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund.

Other affordable housing funding includes $15 million to build on the Ohana Zone pilot program and provide more coordinated services and housing options. “Affordable housing continues to be the top challenge facing working families. The Legislature took bold steps to invest in many critical programs that will help alleviate the sharp rise in our cost of living and continuing to build housing inventory for those who need it the most,” said Housing Committee Vice Chair Troy Hashimoto.


3. Report ranks Hawaii 39th in COVID response

Hawaii ranks first in health but last in economic wellbeing, according to a COVID-19 policy analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The results show that COVID policies that caused states to withdraw the most from economic activity “did not significantly improve health by doing so.” As an isolated island, however, Hawaii was an exception.

The report found that Hawaii had the lowest COVID-related deaths per capita and the lowest COVID mortality rate in the country. However, it also ranked last (51st) in economic performance and 46th in in-person school attendance. Altogether, the bureau ranked Hawaii 39th in overall pandemic response.

4. Med-QUEST invests $10 million for UH data center

To help improve health outcomes in the state, Med-QUEST recently announced a $10 million investment to launch the Health Policy Initiative at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. HPI will evaluate the state’s 1115 managed care waiver, establish a data center with all-payer claims and other Department of Health data, and manage other pilot projects.

One of HPI’s long-term goals is to use the gathered data to inform health policy decisions. “We’re hopefully coming to a place where we build infrastructure around systems so that they are more sustainable,” said Jack Barile, PhD, Interim Director of the Social Science Research Institute at UH Mānoa.


5. 2022–2024 ALICE Initiative Cohort

The Hawaii Community Foundation and Aloha United Way recently announced the 17 nonprofit organizations that make up the 2022-2024 ALICE Initiative Cohort. The organizations will receive a total of $4.5 million over three years to support economic improvement programs for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) households in Hawaiʻi.

Recipients include the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, which provides job training and career advancement, the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, which offers classes and other pathways to sustainable homeownership, and Feed The Hunger Fund, which provides business development services and loan capital to low-income farmers, cooks, and other food entrepreneurs.