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More Than $6.6 Million In Federal Funding From New Schatz-Created Grant Program Heading To Hawai‘i To Build More Housing

New Funding Comes From Housing Grant Program Authored, Funded By Schatz, Signed Into Law In 2022

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Development, today announced Hawai‘i has been awarded more than $6.6 million in new federal grant funding to help build more housing. The funding comes from a new grant program based on Schatz’s bipartisan ‘Yes In My Backyard’ legislation and was first funded in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill. The new Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program rewards state and local governments that reform land-use policies and other local barriers that constrain the supply of affordable housing. In Hawai‘i, lack of infrastructure has been cited as an important obstacle to building more housing. With this PRO Housing grant, Hawai‘i will create a State Infrastructure Bank as long-term infrastructure financing solution to unlock housing production at a larger, more impactful scale than existing initiatives. The state also recently passed a landmark pro-housing package to allow more homes in urban areas and in commercial zones.

“Solving our state’s housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges of this generation. It will take our collective efforts – federal, state, and county – to solve it. That’s why we created this grant program and are helping reward states like Hawai‘i that are doing the right thing to build more housing and help local families find an affordable home,” said Senator Schatz.

For decades, local zoning and land use regulations as well as lack of necessary housing-related infrastructure have prevented housing production from keeping pace with population and economic growth, resulting in a nationwide housing shortage. The PRO Housing program, a first-of-its-kind federal program, will help reverse this trend by rewarding state, local, and regional jurisdictions that address exclusionary zoning practices, land use policies, and housing infrastructure to increase the supply of affordable housing. These policies include increasing density, reducing minimum lot sizes, creating transit-oriented development zones, streamlining or shortening permitting processes and timelines, expanding by-right multifamily zoned areas, allowing accessory dwelling units on lots with single family homes, eliminating or relaxing residential property height limitations, eliminating or reducing off-street parking requirements, and allowing the conversion of vacant retail and office space into residential housing. In this first round, applications were submitted from more than 175 communities – representing a wide variety of demographics, geographies and population sizes – across 47 States and territories.

Schatz secured an additional $100 million for the new grant program in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill, which was signed into law in March.