Millions approved for Kaua’i Hawaiian housing projects

Kaua’i County officials are poised to receive their share of more than $44.4 million members of the U.S. Congress have approved through an appropriation for fiscal year 2005 for transportation, antidrug and housing initiatives in Hawai’i, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai’i, has announced.

Included in the appropriation is $8.8 million from the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants Project for state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands projects, to increase the stock of affordable housing for Native Hawaiians across the state.

Ben Henderson, deputy to DHHL Chairman Micah Kane, said $2.5 million is budgeted for the development of a 180-lot housing project in Anahola over the next three years.

Some $3.7 million in project grant funds have previously been used for the development of 49 single-family homes on DHHL property in Kekaha, Henderson said.

“The infrastructure is nearing completion, and we will be moving into housing construction,” Henderson said of work at the project in Kekaha.

With allocations provided this year, DHHL leaders have received about $36 million over four years for department housing projects across the state, Henderson said.

The securing of the funds helps an ambitious effort by DHHL leaders to build thousands of the homes on DHHL lands in the state to benefit Native Hawaiians, an undertaking praised and supported by Gov. Linda Lingle.

The bulk of the project grant funding is generally used to build infrastructure, but the funds can also be used for down-payment assistance or loans to DHHL beneficiaries whose incomes are at 80 percent or below the median income.

On Kaua’i, the median income for a family of four is $57,900, according to Ken Rainforth, the county Offices of Community Assistance County Housing Agency executive on housing.

Inouye also announced $300,000 will be set aside to help with the completion of a YMCA facility on a four-acre lot located mauka of the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Puhi.

The facility has been planned for more than 15 years, and YMCA leaders have solicited donations throughout the years to see the project come to fruition.

The funds for projects across the state will be released if approved by President Bush.

Funds from the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants Project are authorized by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996, which establishes a yearly appropriation.

With regard to some of the other Kaua’i funds, leaders with the Federal Aviation Administration are trying to determine whether $2 million of the grant project funds should be used to build a new control tower at the Lihu’e Airport, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

At the same time, FAA folks have been conferring with DOT leaders on the matter, he said.

The money, if approved and released, would be used for site preparation, and for the design of the tower, he said.

Construction funds would have to come from federal and state sources, Ishikawa added.

“The existing one (tower) was built 30 years ago, and with new jetliners coming in, there is a need for a new one,” Ishikawa said.

Related to the $44 million appropriation that Inouye has lobbied for, the senator noted that the funds do not include Hawai’i’s share of the Federal Highways Administration and Federal Transit Administration formula funds, which exceeded $157 million in the current fiscal year.

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