The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has been awarded an $8.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a press release from Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

The announcement said the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant will help DHHL build and renovate affordable homes and subsidize housing.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation praised the funds:

“This funding in the past has helped more than 1,400 low-income Native Hawaiian families build safe, secure homes and neighborhoods,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in the press release. “Increased affordable homeownership has positive effects in our community on many levels. Since NAHASDA was enacted 18 years ago, preschool enrollment and proficiency rates in reading and mathematics have increased among Native Hawaiian children. Additionally, crime rates in the Native Hawaiian community have decreased, and health care disparities such as diabetes and heart diseases have been reduced. This grant will continue to build strong communities in Hawaii for generations to come.”

“This investment will help DHHL build and maintain affordable housing units across Hawaii, educate families about buying and financing a home, and offer loan assistance to make it easier for Native Hawaiian families to realize the dream of homeownership,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz in his statement. “The Native Hawaiian community continues to face unique challenges when trying to access affordable housing, and that is why funding programs like the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program are critical to reversing long-standing housing inequality.”

“Access to affordable housing is a key to building strong communities. However, too many Native Hawaiian families struggle to finance their first home,” wrote U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. “Investments in home ownership and access to affordable housing are investments in Hawaii’s future and this funding will help DHHL’s beneficiaries pursue the dream of having a place to call home. In addition to meeting this responsibility, I will continue working with federal stakeholders to raise home affordability for all of Hawaii’s families.”

“These grants will go a long way towards improving existing Hawaiian Homelands and funding future projects across the state,” said Congressman Mark Takai. “In a time where housing prices are at an all-time high, any assistance we receive to provide affordable housing to our Native Hawaiian community is crucial. That is why the House passed the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act, a piece of legislation designed to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the Native people of our country. I will always be an advocate for the citizens of our state.”

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