$8.7 M Secured for Native Hawaiian Affordable Housing

July 14, 2015, 12:55 PM HST · Updated July 14, 2:03 PM
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Hawaiian flag. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Hawaiian flag. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

The Hawaiʻi congressional delegation announced today that the Hawaiʻi State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has been awarded a Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant totaling $8.7 million to build affordable homes, make renovations, and provide housing support for Native Hawaiian families.

The grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development will go toward DHHL’s planned activities for FY2016, which includes more than 300 rental and homeownership opportunities for Native Hawaiian Families, as well as funding for community health and safety promotion, rehabilitation assistance and energy saving investments for existing homeowners, and lending subsidies for homebuyers.

Congresswoman Tusli Gabbard of Hawaii said the block grant funds in the past has helped more than 1,400 low-income Native Hawaiian families build safe, secure homes and neighborhoods.

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“Increased affordable homeownership has positive effects in our community on many levels,” said Rep. Gabbard in a press release announcement.  “Since NAHASDA was enacted 18 years ago, preschool enrollment and proficiency rates in reading and mathematics have increased among Native Hawaiian children. Additionally, crime rates in the Native Hawaiian community have decreased, and health care disparities such as diabetes and heart diseases have been reduced. This grant will continue to build strong communities in Hawai‘i for generations to come,” she said.

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi also commented saying, “This investment will help DHHL build and maintain affordable housing units across Hawai‘i, educate families about buying and financing a home, and offer loan assistance to make it easier for Native Hawaiian families to realize the dream of homeownership.”

He continued saying, “The Native Hawaiian community continues to face unique challenges when trying to access affordable housing, and that is why funding programs like the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program are critical to reversing long-standing housing inequality.”

Fellow US Senator, Mazie Hirono said, “Access to affordable housing is a key to building strong communities; however, too many Native Hawaiian families struggle to finance their first home.  Investments in home ownership and access to affordable housing are investments in Hawaiʻi’s future and this funding will help DHHL’s beneficiaries pursue the dream of having a place to call home. In addition to meeting this responsibility, I will continue working with federal stakeholders to raise home affordability for all of Hawaiʻi’s families.”

Congressman Mark Takai said the grants will go a long way towards improving existing Hawaiian Homelands and funding future projects across the state. “In a time where housing prices are at an all-time high, any assistance we receive to provide affordable housing to our Native Hawaiian community is crucial. That is why the House passed the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act, a piece of legislation designed to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the Native people of our country. I will always be an advocate for the citizens of our state,” said Rep. Takai.

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