$1.5 million to Kauai for affordable housing

HONOLULU — Low-income families on Kauai who are searching for affordable housing are about to get help from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $3 million in new funding from the National Housing Trust Fund to Hawaii for the development and preservation of affordable rental housing.

The money will be available only to households with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income and will be allocated through HHFDC.

“These funds are desperately needed,” Senator Brian Schatz said in a news release. “This is new money for the state to use exclusively for the creation of new affordable rental and housing options for Hawaii’s working families. The housing challenges in Hawaii are due in no small part to a lack of inventory and the whole point of this money is to create units that can be used by individuals and families on the lower end of the income scale.”

The HHFDC will allocate 50 percent of the funding to Honolulu County to be administered by the Department of Community Services.

The remaining funds will be distributed on a rotating basis in coordination with the state’s HOME funding, which means $1.5 million will go to Kauai first, then Maui and then the Big Island, said Kent Miyasaki, spokesman for HHFDC.

HHFDC needs to submit an allocation plan to HUD first and that could take up to 90 days for approval, he said.

But the funds won’t be distributed until after the island counties approve the funding and that could be until late fall or early winter, Miyasaki said.

Without affordable housing, families end up spending well over one-third of their income on housing and have too little for necessities like healthcare, food and transportation as well as optional but critical activities related to education or job training, much less money for recreation.

The new money coming into Hawaii this year is expressly to create new housing targeted to these families, the release said.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in 2015 there were more than 190,000 households renting in Hawaii at an average of $14.49 per hour.

Meanwhile, the hourly wage necessary to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Honolulu is $34.81, on Maui is $24.31, on Kauai is $23.50 and in Hawaii County is $22.13.

The $3 million given to Hawaii is part of a $174 million package awarded to the nation, where each state was given a minimum of $3 million in funding.

State affordable housing planners will use these funds for the following eligible activities: Real property acquisition, site improvements and development hard costs, related soft costs, demolition, financing costs, relocation assistance, operating cost assistance for rental housing (up to 30% of each grant) and reasonable administrative and planning costs, according to a news release.

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