(BIVN) – Governor Josh Green says the State will take advantage of a new Biden Administration program to address Hawaiʻi’s affordable housing crisis.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, announced on Thursday that a new $85 million, competitive Pathways to Removing Obstacles (PRO) Housing funding opportunity will “reduce barriers to affordable housing production by helping local communities address restrictive zoning, land use, and regulatory policies.”
“It also expands financing for affordable, energy-efficient, and resilient housing, and promotes commercial-to-residential conversion opportunities,” the State said in a news release.
Last week, Governor Green signed an Emergency Proclamation on Housing, which officials hope will streamline the processes for development.
HUD says that “communities nationwide are suffering from a lack of affordable housing, and housing production is not meeting the increasing demand.”
Hawaiʻi officials say the PRO Housing opportunity “supports communities that are actively taking steps to remove barriers”, such as:
- Barriers caused by outdated zoning, land use policies, or regulations;
- Inefficient procedures;
- Gaps in available resources for development;
- Deteriorating or inadequate infrastructure;
- Lack of neighborhood amenities; or
- Challenges to preserving existing housing stock such as increasing threats from natural hazards, redevelopment pressures, or expiration of affordability requirements.
From today’s news release:
The $1 million to $10 million grants made available through PRO Housing align with the state’s July 17 Emergency Proclamation (EP) on Housing’s goal to eliminate the red tape, which has held back the development of affordable housing in Hawaiʻi for decades.
“The chronic shortage of affordable housing is the number one economic threat that Hawaiʻi families face today,” said Governor Green. “We applaud the Biden Administration’s efforts to seek creative solutions to the affordability crisis that has become a major issue not just in Hawaiʻi, but throughout the nation.”
Under the Governor’s EP for Housing, the state has identified about 50,000 new housing units in the pipeline to be built over the next decade. The state plans to help developers build those units by streamlining the approval process without compromising cultural and environmental protections.
Earlier this month when HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge visited Hawai‘i, she told Governor Green that Hawaiʻi families face some of the biggest challenges in the nation when it comes to finding affordable housing. At the time, Secretary Fudge announced that Hawaiʻi was also eligible for a $3.1 billion nationwide HUD program to battle homelessness.
Governor Green said the state will apply for both the HUD homeless grant as well as the new PRO Housing grant to reduce housing barriers in our state.
“HUD recognizes that communities have unique housing challenges, and that’s why the resources announced today are not one size fits all,” said Secretary Fudge. “HUD is proud to highlight the efforts of communities who are committed to housing-forward policies and practices, and through PRO Housing, we hope to support them with funding as well. Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs. We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with local communities.”
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge met with state leaders, and engaged with Native Hawaiian beneficiaries, during her visit to Hawaiʻi earlier this month.