(BIVN) – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaiʻi) announced on Monday that he has secured $80 million for Native Hawaiian health care, housing and education programs in the new COVID-19 relief bill that is currently under Congressional consideration.
Schatz is the new chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and his office worked with Congressional leaders to include the funding for Native Hawaiian programs.
“$80 million in new COVID-19 relief funding will soon be on its way to the Native Hawaiian community. This is money that will help more Native Hawaiian families with rental assistance, health care services, and educational opportunities,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a news release. “As the Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, my job is to help deliver federal funding to the Native Hawaiian community, and that’s what we were able to do in this new relief package.”
The $80 million for Native Hawaiian programs include:
Native Hawaiian Education – estimated $36 million
- An estimated $36 million to Native Hawaiian-serving institutions, including the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Kapiolani Community College, and Chaminade University among others. The funding will help expand access to higher education for Native Hawaiian students, strengthen student leadership development, and enhance Hawaiian language learning and teaching.
Native Hawaiian Health Care – estimated $37 million
- $20 million to the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems (NHHCS), which provide critical access to health education, promotion, disease prevention, and primary care services for thousands of Native Hawaiians. This funding will support five health centers on Hawai‘i Island, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu.
- An estimated $17 million in Medicaid reimbursements for the NHHCS for two years. This estimated funding is through a 100 percent federal Medicaid matching rate, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, which will help save the State of Hawai‘i millions of dollars and free up state resources that can be used to help fight the pandemic and support more families.
Native Hawaiian Housing Assistance – estimated $6.5 million
- $5 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is estimated to benefit 800 households. The DHHL program helps renters both on and off Hawaiian Home Lands pay for rent, utilities, security deposits, and other expenses related to housing incurred due to the pandemic.
- $1.5 million to DHHL to help homesteaders. Funds can be used for mortgage assistance, assistance after forbearance, principal reduction, utilities, property taxes, and other expenses to prevent foreclosure, default, or utility shut off.
Sen. Schatz has “also worked to create new grants to assist Native language programs across the country that have suffered due to the pandemic,” the news release states. “Hawaiian language programs will have access to a portion of the $10 million in Emergency Native American Language Preservation & Maintenance Grants included in the COVID-19 relief bill.”