Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Announcement

Hale Kalanianaole, 91-5420 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, HI
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank you, Chairman Nahale-a, for that kind introduction.

And thanks to Senator Inouye for his extraordinary leadership over the years on behalf of this state. Indeed, long before Hawaii even was a state, Daniel Inouye was fighting for families on these islands.

And in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it's a fight that has never been more critical, as we work to ensure that every family can be part of winning the future.

That's why today, I'm proud to announce almost $13 million in new Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant funding for the next year -- and I'm privileged to join Mr. Jonathan Amano and his family as they move into their new home, funded in part by NHHBG assistance.

For years, the Amanos confronted a problem that so many Hawaiian families face -- access to affordable homes in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

For Native Hawaiian families, part of the solution is an opportunity to live on Hawaiian home lands. Indeed, homes on Hawaiian homestead lands often cost half of what they would elsewhere.  

And with the ability of Native Hawaiian families to transfer their homeownership rights to a relative with at least 25 percent Hawaiian ancestry, living on the home lands doesn't just make economic sense -- it's an extraordinary opportunity to preserve a unique cultural heritage.

That's why HUD tools like the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program are so important.

With these grants, HUD not only helps build homes and infrastructure on native Hawaiian home lands -- we help prepare responsible families for homeownership with tools like housing counseling and downpayment assistance.

Families like the Amanos, who bought their first home with a down payment of over $57,000 in NHHBG assistance and a 30-year loan financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With this support, a hard-working carpenter like Jonathan Amano will finally have the opportunity to move with his wife and four children into a good home they can afford.

And with the family's decision to upgrade their cabinets and appliances and install a new photovoltaic solar power system, they'll reduce their energy costs, as well.

But the Amanos are only the latest family to realize their dream of responsible homeownership on the Hawaiian home lands.

Since the program began in 2002 with the steadfast support of Senator Inouye, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has used NHHBG grants to build, acquire, and rehab more than 380 homes -- along with providing critical services like homebuyer education and housing counseling to more than 600 low-income Native Hawaiian families.

Thanks to today's funding announcement and the support the Obama Administration has provided the program these last several years, more families will have the same opportunity.

In addition to the nearly $13 million HUD is providing this fiscal year, last year we invested $12.6 million in the NHHBG program -- the highest two funding levels in history.

And that's on top of the more than $10 million in NHHBG funding we provided through President Obama's Recovery Act, which is supporting remarkable developments like the Kaupuni Village, the first affordable housing development in the country to be certified platinum by the LEED green building rating system.

As all this work demonstrates, our commitment to supporting affordable housing on the Hawaiian home lands is stronger than ever.

And with President Obama's leadership, and partners like Senator Inouye, it's a commitment that will not flag.

That's why I'm so pleased to be with you all today. And to the Amano family -- congratulations on your new home. 


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