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$1B secured for housing, State House, Senate to vote this week

HONOLULU — House Speaker Scott Saiki announced that $1 billion in funds were approved in conference committees and will be voted on in the House and Senate this week.

Funding will help the homeless, very-low income, moderate-income and working families with rent relief and housing. Developers will apply for and compete for funding to develop affordable housing.

“The affordable-housing bills passed this year will help struggling families in Hawai‘i,” said House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke.

”Unprecedented funding — close to $1 billion — will result in new rental and for-sale affordable housing throughout our state,” she said.

With Hawai‘i having the second highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation, House Human Services and Homelessness Committee Chair Ryan Yamane stated, “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 state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands parcel wait list, House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chair Mark Nakashima noted that “aggressive development of house lots and homes for Native Hawaiians can take place with the $600 million infusion of funds. 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.”

“The state Legislature heard loud and clear that we must do more to address the need for affordable housing. By working together in partnership with the Senate and stakeholders, we passed a range of bills to address our needs,” stated House Housing Committee Chair Nadine Nakamura.

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

Housing bills that will be sent to Gov. Ige for his signature include:

• HB 2511 – Funding for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL)

Establishes the Hawaiian home lands special fund and appropriates $600 million. Funds will be used to develop housing in all counties for Native Hawaiians on the DHHL waiting list. Funds will also be used for down payment assistance and mortgage payment assistance to beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920;

• SB 3048 – Funding for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund

Appropriates $300 million into the Rental Housing Revolving Fund. For the first time, funding has been set aside (up to $150 million) to develop rental housing for working individuals and families with incomes about 60% and at or below 100% of the median family income for the state;

• HB 2512 – Funding and extension of ‘Ohana Zones Pilot Program

Appropriates $15 million and extends the ‘Ohana Zone pilot program until 2026. Allows the funds to be used for temporary shelter, permanent transitional housing and services. Services can include medical, social support services and transportation;

• HB 1600 – Other Housing Funds in the State Budget

Appropriates $20 million for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to facilitate the development of infrastructure for affordable housing and $5 million to the Affordable Homeownership Revolving Fund to provide gap financing for for-sale housing;

• HB 2233 – Relating to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Provides First-to-Work participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families programs up to $500 per month for rental assistance. This will benefit over 4,000 working families participating in both programs;

• HB 1837 – Affordable Housing Working Group

Funds and establishes a working group on affordable housing to foster increased inter-agency coordination on housing and land-use issues, address barriers to affordable-housing development and propose future legislation;

• HB 1752 – Housing Voucher Program Incentives

Appropriates $1.5 million to establish incentives for landlords to participate in the Tenant-based Assistance Housing Choice Voucher Program and cover property-damage expenses that exceed tenant’s security deposit up to one month of rent. Adds staff to the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority to improve service delivery and ensure housing inspections take place within 15 days of a landlord or owner’s request;

• HB 1829 – Private Activity Bonds for Affordable Housing

Requires allocation of the annual ceiling to a county with a population of five hundred thousand or more to be used only for rental housing projects eligible for low-income housing tax credits. Prohibits the authorization of special purpose revenue bonds requiring allocation of the annual ceiling, unless requested by the governor and approved by the Legislature, between 6/30/2022 and 12/31/2028;

• SB 206 – Rental Discrimination

Prohibits discrimination, including in advertisements for rental property, in rental transactions based on participation in the Section 8 housing choice program or any permanent supportive housing programs.
Source: The Garden Island

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