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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Key Funding For Homelessness Programs And Native Hawaiian Housing

Schatz Worked To Include $5 Million for Native Hawaiian Housing

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, legislation that will provide key funding for programs to support Native Hawaiian housing and address homelessness.  U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, worked to ensure more homeless assistance funds go to states with a greater need for housing resources.  He also worked to include $5 million in funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program and additional resources for affordable housing programs in Hawai‘i and across the country.

“Homelessness and affordable housing are major challenges for us in Hawai‘i and this bill increases the federal resources the state can use to help families access safe, affordable housing,” said Senator Schatz.  “Hawai‘i will need the federal government to remain a strong partner in the effort to combat homelessness and this bill is a good start.  It provides funding for housing assistance including veterans housing vouchers, shelters, supportive housing, and homelessness service providers.”

The transportation and housing appropriations bill includes billions of dollars in funding for programs to address homelessness in Hawai‘i and across the country.  Specifically, the bill includes:

  • $2.33 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants. These grants fund local, regional, and state homeless assistance programs across the country.  Funding is used for permanent and supportive housing, transitional housing, and other supportive services.  Senator Schatz included language in the legislation to ensure that funding through this program is distributed to states with the greatest need.
  • $20 million for 2,500 new housing vouchers for children who age out of foster care;
  • $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, a program that provides annual grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities and housing for low and moderate-income individuals;
  • $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which funds activities including building, buying, and renovating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.
  • $50 million for Housing and Urban Development Veterans Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)

The bill also includes $5 million for Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants, a program that provides financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities, and receive housing services, including counseling, financial literacy and other critical resources to address housing disparities.

The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant was established under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act to help Native Hawaiian families.  Funds from this grant are administered by the State of Hawai‘i Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the agency charged with carrying out the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

The appropriations bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.