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Federal funds coming to Hawaii, Inouye announces

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

Sen. Daniel Inouye has detailed federal monies coming Hawaii’s way in several media releases over the last few days.

Inouye, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, made the announcements after the full Senate approved $60,550,000 in funding for various transportation, housing and urban development initiatives in Hawaii.

The bill must now face a joint House-Senate Conference and final approval by the Senate and House, before it is transmitted to the White House.

The $60 million total includes $30 million for the Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project. The funds will go to continue preliminary engineering phases of initial facility and transit system design, in addition to the refinement of capital costs estimates, as required by the Federal Transit Administration. 

“The traffic congestion on Oahu for workday and weekend commuters is untenable, any Oahu driver will attest to that,” Inouye said. “The federal government will continue to support a shared vision for rail transit, as a majority of Oahu voters approved in November. Our role is to support whatever plan emerges from collaboration between county, state and private stakeholders.”  

Among highlights that have the potential to actually benefit the Big Island:

U.S. Housing and Urban Development

* Through the Recovery Act, the Hawaii State Program will receive $2,166,888 to assist families from becoming or who have become homeless. The funding will also help those who have suddenly fallen into a financial crisis that could lead to homelessness.  

Resources such as providing short- and medium-term housing solutions and services to prevent those from becoming homeless are offered through HUD’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program.

* Also through HUD, Hawaii County has been awarded a $647,364 Community Development Block Grant. The funding allows Hawaii to undertake a range of community issues such as improving housing conditions, constructing public facilities and creating job opportunities.

“The funding from HUD will help improve the lives of many people in Hawaii,” Inouye said. “Neighborhoods will be improved and housing will be provided to those in need during these challenging economic times.”

U.S. Department of Transportation

* Hilo International Airport will receive two grants totaling more than $1.3 million for taxiway construction.

The airport will receive a grant totaling $1,028,793 to construct two connecting taxiways and an additional grant for $276,886 to rehabilitate three taxiways at the airport.

“Maintaining this infrastructure is critical because it ensures that residents and visitors alike can reach all corners of Hawaii for business, pleasure, and family events.”

Miscellaneous

* Federal Lands Improvement Project – $4 million

Federal property in Hawaii includes several extensive wildlife refuge and national parks located on four islands. These parks encompass rugged volcanic terrain, wetlands, tropical forests, coastline and historical fishponds used in Native Hawaiian aquaculture. This appropriation will enable access to and within designated federal properties for proper park services maintenance and security.

* Rural Bus Program – $3.5 million

These funds will be used by Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai counties to purchase buses to expand routes and increase the frequency of service throughout the neighbor islands.  The funds may also be used to provide bus shelters, transit benches, and upgrades to comply with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act.

* Pahala Elderly Housing Rehabilitation Project – $400,000

For the construction of 24 units of elderly housing in Pahala, just outside of Hilo.

Native Hawaiian Programs

Native Hawaiian Block Grant Program – $13 million

Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions Program – $3 million

Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund Program – $1 million 

National Programs that Benefit Hawaii

Essential Air Service – $125 million

Community Development Block Grant – $3.9 billion

Housing Assistance Council – $8 million

Maritime Security Program – $174 million

Fed-Aid Highway Program Obligation Limitation – $141 million

McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program – $1.8 million

Small Shipyards Grant Program – $17.5 million

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – $74 million

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