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Schatz, Hirono seek to expand Hawaiian homeownership

MEDIA RELEASE

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Mazie Hirono have introduced bills that will help expand the number of Native Hawaiians eligible for homeownership, grant additional options when transferring ownership, and provide more financial assistance tools to secure a home.

Schatz introduced three amendments to the Native Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA), which will expand housing program eligibility and succession authority to those who are one-quarter Hawaiian.

It also authorizes the Hawaiian Homes Commission to set interest rates on home loans based on market conditions. Hirono is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

Hirono introduced the Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act, legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant.

This bill provides an avenue for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries to secure financing to purchase a home on Hawaiian Home Lands. Schatz is an original co-sponsor of the bill. Hawaiian Home Lands legislation has always been a priority for Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

In January, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced this legislation in the House and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is a cosponsor of that bill.

“These bills allow a greater number of families living on Hawaiian Homesteads to transfer or pass on their homes to a brother or a sister,” Schatz said. “It would expand the threshold of eligibility and protect siblings of a homesteader from being evicted after the loss of a loved one. Our delegation urges Congress to move swiftly to approve these measures which will remove barriers for Native Hawaiians so that they can plan for the future of their families. Mazie has been working on this issue during her time in the House of Representatives, and I am proud to join her and our delegation in continuing to protect the interests of Hawaii’s native people.”

“I am proud to introduce legislation that helps the United States honor its commitment to Native Hawaiian families through accessible housing on Home Lands. This bill will help the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands continue to secure funds for the development of new areas for homesteads. It will also ensure eligible Native Hawaiians have access to the home loans they need. Fighting for Native Hawaiians has always been a top priority for me and the rest of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, and I’m pleased to once again join Brian and our delegation colleagues in this endeavor,” Hirono said.

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