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Legislature Secures $1B For Affordable Housing

May 2, 2022, 11:00 AM HST
* Updated May 2, 10:34 AM
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The state Legislature is making a substantial investment in affordable housing, securing $1 billion that will help the homeless, very low and moderate income people and working families with rent relief and housing.

House Speaker Scott Saiki announced in a press release that the funds were approved in conference committees and will be voted on by the full House and Senate this week.

“The affordable housing bills passed this year will help struggling families in Hawai‘i,” Finance Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke said in the press release. “Unprecedented funding — close to $1 billion — will result in new rental and for-sale affordable housing throughout our state.”

The islands have the second highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation. Human Services and Homelessness Chairman Rep. Ryan Yamane said in the release that “we’re building on the success of the ‘Ohana Zone pilot program by adding $15 million to develop more housing options and coordinate needed services for our houseless families. This will directly help our homelessness challenge.”

Addressing the 28,000 Native Hawaiians on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waiting list, Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Rep. Mark Nakashima, who represents portions of East Hawai‘i, including Hilo, noted in the release that “aggressive development of house lots and homes for Native Hawaiians can take place with the $600 million infusion of funds.”

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“And for the first time, funding for mortgage down payments and/or rental assistance will provide further options for families on the DHHL wait list,” Nakashima added.

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Housing Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nadine Nakamura said in the release that the funds show the Legislature “heard loud and clear” that more must be done to address the state’s need for affordable housing.

“Affordable housing continues to be the top challenge facing working families,” Housing Committee Vice Chairman Troy Hashimoto said in the press release. “The Legislature took bold steps to invest in many critical programs that will help alleviate the sharp rise in our cost of living and (continue) to build housing inventory for those who need it the most.”

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