East Hawaii News

$14.2M Awarded to State to Fight Homelessness

July 30, 2015, 2:46 PM HST
* Updated July 30, 2:50 PM
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The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a variety of grants totaling $14,252,365 to support the development of affordable workforce housing for low and moderate-income individuals, address homelessness, and to provide housing assistance and supportive services for low income individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Hawai’i’s congressional delegation, made up of Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Representative Mark Takai, made the announcement Thursday.

Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development noted following the announcement that homelessness is among the most serious and urgent issues faced in Hawai’i.

“With the Governor’s new working group of state, county, and federal leaders, we’re beginning to see a real and collective seriousness of purpose in solving homelessness from all levels of government,” Senator Schatz said. “While resolving this crisis won’t come immediately or cheaply, this renewed focus puts us in a good position to work on real, long-term solutions.  As part of this new task force and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m going to be working closely with HUD and do my part to make sure federal funds, including grants like these, continue to give the State and the City and County of Honolulu the critical resources to finally address the housing shortage in Hawai‘i and put people back in homes.”

In addition to Senator Schatz, Senator Hirono noted that finding a safe and stable home is a struggle for many families in Hawai’i, adding that the issues of affordable housing and homelessness are complex but that the efforts towards solutions are necessary.

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“The Governor’s Leadership Team on Homelessness is an example of both the leadership and coordination that needs to take place at the federal, state, and county levels of government to grapple with these issues statewide,” said Senator Hirono. “Government by itself cannot solve these issues.  It will take a collaboration between the public and private sectors, which is occurring.  I will continue work with all stakeholders to secure necessary funding, such as these grants, which allows Hawai’i to assist and address the needs of our most vulnerable individuals and families.”

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Representative Gabbard says the homeless rate in Hawai’i is already among the highest in the country.

“The extreme shortage of truly accessible and affordable housing on every island makes it increasingly difficult for families and individuals with limited resources to find a safe, stable place to live,” said Representative Gabbard. “While they don’t solve the problem, these grants will help support local programs that serve those most in need.”

Representative Takai commented, “At a crucial time when Hawai’i is facing a critical shortage of affordable and transition housing, these grants will provide additional resources to our most vulnerable of residents, and help to begin the process of helping them find permanent housing.

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“I have participated in several meetings with HUD Secretary Julian Castro about this issue and have emphasized the need for federal support. I would like to extend a warm mahalo to HUD and Secretary Castro for their commitment to helping our islands, and hope that we can continue to work on homelessness, along with State and local agencies.”

Grants from the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, the HOME Investment Partnership Program and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS awards are all included within the HUD funding.

The breakdown of the money awarded to the State of Hawai’i is as follows:

$7,286,071 through the CDBG program. The program provides annual grants to states and local units of government to develop viable urban communities and housing principally for low and moderate income individuals.

$1,119,808 from the ESG program. The program target homeless individuals and families to address homelessness.

$5,205,409 from the HOME program. The program provides affordable housing to low and very low income families.

$641,077 through the HOPWA program. The program provides housing assistance and services to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

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