KAHULUI, Hawaii — Maui Mayor Richard Bissen announced on Friday the appointment of Richard E. Mitchell as director of Maui County’s newly created Department of Housing that launches July 1.

The new department was created in Nov. 2022 when Maui County residents voted to pass a ballot measure calling for the separation of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns.

Mitchell’s appointment is subject to Maui County Council confirmation.

Mitchell earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University before he began work as a legislative attorney in Maui County’s Office of Council Services in 2019.

“Mr. Mitchell brings a wealth of experience in housing policy, land use, real estate and law,” said Bissen in a news release. “We look forward to his leadership in advancing the Department of Housing’s mission to provide housing for residents, including wildfire survivors.”

Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, Mitchell began practicing architecture in London, New York City and Seattle. Because he grew up in public housing, Mitchell maintained an interest in housing issues throughout his career, which led him to work as a design architect on an urban redevelopment project that incorporated affordable and market rate housing in the east London neighborhood where he grew up.

While at the University of Michigan, Mitchell spent a summer in the West Indies. His work collecting census data was used to improve impoverished shantytowns in Kingston, Jamaica. This led him to study law at Syracuse University during which he clerked for a summer as an attorney for the Harlem Legal Aid Society in New York City, providing legal services to those in need.

After moving to Seattle he joined the board of the Low Income Housing Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates for housing for low-income community groups throughout the Pacific Northwest. Mitchell then went on to practice law for over 23 years at several premier law firms in Seattle. He also served as general counsel to former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, January 2005 to December 2008, and served as one of five commissioners on the King County Housing Authority, 2010 to 2014.

Together with his wife, Mitchell raised three sons all of whom graduated from Maui High School and went on to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.