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$3 Million In New Funding For Affordable Housing

HONOLULU – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $3,000,000 in new funding from the National Housing Trust Fund to Hawai‘i for the development and preservation of affordable rental housing. The funding will be available only to households with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income and will be allocated through the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC).

“These funds are desperately needed,” said Senator Schatz.  “This is new money for the state to use exclusively for the creation of new affordable rental and housing options for Hawai‘i's working families.  The housing challenges in Hawai‘i are due in no small part to a lack of inventory and the whole point of this money is to create units that can be used by individuals and families on the lower end of the income scale.”

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in 2015 there were more than 190,000 households renting in Hawai‘i.  The average wage for these renters was $14.49 per hour.  Meanwhile the hourly wage necessary to rent a two bedroom apartment in Honolulu is $34.81, on Maui is $24.31, on Kauai is $23.50 and in Hawai‘i County is $22.13.  Without affordable housing, families end up spending well over one-third of their income on housing and have too little for necessities like healthcare, food and transportation as well as optional but critical activities related to education or job training much less money for recreation.  The new money coming into Hawai‘i this year is expressly to create new housing targeted to these families.

As a member of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Senator Schatz asked HUD Secretary Julian Castro when Hawai‘i could expect to see these new funds.  During that hearing on March 10th Secretary Castro committed to administering the funds this spring which has materialized with yesterday’s announcement.  In the conversation with Senator Schatz the Secretary said, “…we are confident that the timeline now for the states that are the most timely to submit their plan will be in the summer. And we look forward to that because, as you mentioned, the NHTF is important because it’s serving extremely low income individuals, which suffer from the biggest gap in affordability for housing that’s out there. So it’s a unique tool that we can use to fill that gap.” The National Low Income Housing Coalition reported on this questioning at that time which can be read here

The HHFDC will allocate 50 percent of the funding to Honolulu County and this portion of the award will be administered by the Department of Community Services. The remaining funds will be distributed on a rotating basis in coordination with the state’s HOME funding. This year that means 50 percent of these funds will go to Kauai.

Congress created the National Housing Trust Fund in 2008 and this is the first year the Trust Fund has been capitalized and states are receiving money for these critical investments.