East Hawaii News

Billions Passed by Senate for Native Hawaiian Housing, Homeless Programs

May 20, 2016, 11:42 AM HST
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Capitol PIXABAYThe United States Senate passed legislation on Friday that would provide funding support for Native Hawaiian housing and to address homelessness.

Under the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, billions of dollars in funding for programs to address homelessness in Hawai’i and across the country will be available.

Senator Brian Schatz, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, worked to make sure that states with the highest need for housing resources were able to obtain the funds.

Among the efforts of Senator Schatz was the inclusion of $5 million in funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program and additional resources for affordable housing programs in Hawai’i and across the country.

The Native Hawaiian Housing block Grant program provides financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities, and receive housing services, including counseling, financial literacy, and other critical resources to address housing disparities.

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“We were able to appropriate additional money for homelessness and affordable housing programs which will help Hawai‘i,” said Senator Schatz. “Homelessness is an urgent problem, and these additional funds will give our state the resources to help families access affordable housing and services while we continue to implement long-term solutions.”

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The bill includes the following:

  • $2.33 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants. These grants fund local, regional, and state homeless assistance programs across the country. Funding is used for permanent and supportive housing, transitional housing, and other supportive services. Senator Schatz included language in the legislation to ensure that funding through this program is distributed to states with the greatest need.
  • $20.4 billion for Tenant Based Rental Assistance which provides for rental vouchers for more than 2.2 million households nationwide and 9,000 in Hawai‘i specifically. The purpose of the program is to limit rent for low income families to no more than 30-percent of their income and HUD pays the difference to the private landlord. In 2014, private owners in Hawai‘i who provide rental housing received more than $98 million in payments from this program.
  • $20 million for 2,500 new housing vouchers for children who age out of foster care.
  • $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, a program that provides annual grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities and housing for low and moderate-income individuals.
  • $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which funds activities including building, buying, and renovating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.
  • $50 million for Housing and Urban Development Veterans Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH).
  • $218 million to Hawai‘i for roads, bridges, buses, and bike paths consistent with the funding levels established in the transportation authorization bill Congress adopted last year.
  • $525 million for TIGER Grants, which fund critical infrastructure projects such as the Lihue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project in Kauai, which received $13 million last year.

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