Public Comment Sought on Proposed Use of Additional Grant Funds for Buyout Program
The County of Hawai‘i is accepting public comment on a draft Substantial Amendment to its Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Action Plan. The public comment period runs June 2 through July 1.
The Action Plan addresses how the County spends CDBG-DR grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist with recovery from the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. In October 2020, HUD accepted the County’s initial Action Plan, which identified a Voluntary Housing Buyout Program and Housing Relocation Services Program to be supported by an $83.84 million CDBG-DR grant.
This substantial amendment addresses a separate $23.72 million CDBG-DR grant that HUD allocated to the County in January 2021. The County proposes to use the additional funds to continue supporting the Voluntary Housing Buyout Program.
“The ongoing intake of housing buyout applications and data from our recent Kīlauea Recovery Housing Survey have shown that the need for the program and interest from the public will exceed the initial CDBG-DR grant,” said Douglas Le, the County’s Disaster Recovery Officer. “By allocating these additional resources, we will ensure that we assist as many impacted Puna residents as possible.”
The four-month-long eruption destroyed 612 residences, including 294 primary homes.
Buyout program applications are currently being accepted for property owners whose primary residence was destroyed or impacted by the eruption. As of June 1, 243 applications had been received. Additionally, survey results showed 79% of respondents were interested in a housing buyout.
HUD requires CDBG-DR grantees to address unmet housing recovery needs before spending the funds on otherwise eligible uses, such as infrastructure or economic development.