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Hawai’i Receives $3 Million In New Funding For Affordable Housing

May 5, 2016, 1:57 PM HST (Updated May 5, 2016, 1:57 PM)
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United States Senator Brian Schatz. United State Senate photo.

United States Senator Brian Schatz. United State Senate photo.

Senator Brian Schatz has announced that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development was awarded National Housing Trust Fund funding to Hawai’i.

The award totals $3 million to be used towards the development and preservation of affordable rental housing.

Households with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income will be eligible for the funds, which will be allocated through the Hawai’i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

“These funds are desperately needed,” said Senator Schatz. “This is new money for the state to use exclusively for the creation of new affordable rental and housing options for Hawai‘i’s working families. The housing challenges in Hawai‘i are due in no small part to a lack of inventory and the whole point of this money is to create units that can be used by individuals and families on the lower end of the income scale.”

In 2015, there were 190,000 households renting in Hawai’i, with renters making an average of 14.49 per hour, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

On the Big Island, the necessary wage to rent a two bedroom apartment is $22.13, according to the coalition.

Without affordable housing, families end up spending well over one-third of their income on housing and have too little for necessities like healthcare, food, and transportation, as well as optional but critical activities related to education or job training, much less money for recreation.

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The Office of Senator Schatz said the new money coming into Hawai‘i this year is expressly to create new housing targeted to these families.

As a member of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Senator Schatz asked HUD Secretary Julian Castro when Hawai‘i could expect to see these new funds.

During that hearing on March 10, Secretary Castro committed to administering the funds this spring, which has materialized with Wednesday’s announcement.

In the conversation with Senator Schatz the Secretary said, “…we are confident that the timeline now for the states that are the most timely to submit their plan will be in the summer. And we look forward to that because, as you mentioned, the NHTF is important because it’s serving extremely low income individuals, which suffer from the biggest gap in affordability for housing that’s out there. So it’s a unique tool that we can use to fill that gap.”

The HHFDC will allocate 50 percent of the funding to Honolulu County and this portion of the award will be administered by the Department of Community Services. The remaining funds will be distributed on a rotating basis in coordination with the state’s HOME funding. This year, that means 50 percent of these funds will go to Kauai.

Congress created the National Housing Trust Fund in 2008, and this is the first year the Trust Fund has been capitalized and states are receiving money for these critical investments.

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