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Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Schatz: $6.6M for YIMBY
By News Release @ 11:58 PM :: 599 Views :: Congressional Delegation, Development

Grassroot-supported housing bills trigger federal grant

from Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii informed Grassroot staff last week that Hawaii will receive more than $6.6 million through the federal Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing program, which he had a role in creating.

Schatz said Hawaii received the award partially because of its adoption this year of SB3202 and HB2090, which will allow more housing in urban areas and make it easier to convert commercial buildings into residences, respectively. Both bills were heavily supported by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

According to Schatz’s official announcement, the money will be used to "create a State Infrastructure Bank to help finance long-term housing projects," and "allow the state to increase capacity to identify and address regulatory burdens that are driving up the cost of housing across the state."

In March 2023, Grassroot policy researcher Jonathan Helton commended Schatz in a Honolulu Star-Advertiser commentary for supporting "Yes In My Backyard" legislation aimed at incentivizing better local building and zoning policies across the nation.

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Hawaii receives $6.6 million grant to address affordable housing

by Kim Jarrett,  The Center Square, July 5, 2024

Hawaii officials hope a $6.6 million grant received this week will alleviate a problem decades in the making.

The grant was spearheaded in Congress by one of Hawaii's own, U.S. Rep. Brian Schatz, the sponsor of the "Yes In My Backyard Legislation." The Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing allows the state to create a State Infrastructure Bank, which will go towards easing the state's regulatory burdens.

“Solving our state’s housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges of this generation," Schatz said. "It will take our collective efforts – federal, state, and county – to solve it."

Affordable housing is one of Gov. Josh Green's top priorities, he said.

“By creating a State Infrastructure Bank and addressing regulatory barriers, we can overcome some of the biggest hurdles in housing production and work towards a future where every family in Hawai‘i has a place to call home," Green said.

Green signed six bills into law in May he said he hoped would address the barriers.

Senate Bill 3202 requires counties to allow at least two accessory dwelling units on all residentially zoned lots. Counties must adopt or amend ordinances by Dec. 31, 2026 to adjust for this, according to the bill.

House Bill 2090 will increase housing inventory by repurposing underutilized commercial spaces and office buildings, according to the governor’s office. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation can issue housing project infrastructure bonds through Senate Bill 2133.

The median price for a home in Hawaii is $875,000, according to the Hawaii Housing Factbook 2024. The average cost of a condominium is $600,000.

Twenty-eight percent of Hawaii residents spend more than 50% of their income on rent, and only 1-in-5 households can afford a median-priced home mortgage, according to the report released in May by the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii.

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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

News Release from Office of Sen Brian Schatz, June 26, 2024

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.


SA: Off the news: State gets $6.6M housing grant from fed | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

HNN: Green: Hawaii awarded new federal grant aimed at removing obstacles to housing production (hawaiinewsnow.com)


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