(Honolulu, HI) – Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) announced today that the House Appropriations Committee has approved $158.3 billion in funding for federal transportation and housing programs for upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as well as further COVID-19 emergency assistance, including some $24 million in funding for Native Hawaiian housing.
“This measure starts by investing $75 billion in upgrading our nation’s transportation and housing infrastructure,” said Case. “This will not only upgrade aging facilities and networks, but assist in stabilizing our job market as we recover from COVID-19.
“It also boosts key federal programs assuring affordable housing to the most vulnerable among us, such as the homeless, elderly, those with disabilities and too many of our veterans. These programs are especially critical in high-cost Hawai‘i and so were among my highest requests to my Committee.”
Case also highlighted a provision that would give the Federal Transit Administration, the federal agency that oversees federal cost-sharing of transit projects, flexibility to amend the local cost share. “This could assist HART’s critical financing needs as the tax revenues supporting local funding of the project dry up amidst the COVID-19 economic effects.”
Case’s Appropriations Committee is responsible for allocating funding to federal government agencies, departments and organizations on an annual basis through twelve separate bills. The committee’s FY 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill passed today funds the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The total funding level is $158.3 billion in base budgetary resources.
The bill includes $75.9 billion in discretionary funding for FY 2021, an increase of $1.7 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $16.8 billion above the President’s budget request. Consistent with the INVEST in America Act, the massive infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. House recently with Case’s aye vote, the bill includes budgetary resources for surface transportation programs totaling $78.7 billion.
Housing-related funding requested and secured by Case include:
- $24 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program. The bill doubles regular funding to $4 million for FY21, and adds another $20 million for COVID-specific economic recovery infrastructure funding.
- Rejects the President’s proposal to rescind $2 million from the Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee program.
- $25.7 billion for the Tenant-based Rental Assistance (also known as the Section 8) program, a $1.9 billion increase.
- $3.4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, a $638 million increase.
- $60 million for programs to help homeless veterans, a $20 million increase.
- $1.65 billion for Supportive Housing for the Elderly, which includes $893 million, a $100 million increase, for FY 2021 and $750 million for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.
- $406 million for Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, which includes $227 million, a $25 million increase, for FY 2021 and $179 million for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.
In response to ongoing concerns in Hawai‘i arising from virtually unregulated tour helicopter and other commercial flights, Case requests incorporated in the measure include multiple provisions to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address various chronic and worsening safety and community disruption issues. Among these provisions are directives to the FAA to:
- Report to Congress on the implementation of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, which requires the FAA and National Park Service to establish air tour management plans for the most impacted National Parks, including Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Haleakalā National Parks.
- Report to Congress on how FAA has implemented National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on commercial tour flights, and, if FAA decided not to implement these recommendations, why.
- Report on the activities undertaken by the newly established Regional Ombudsmen, who serve as the regional liaisons on issues regarding aircraft noise, pollution and safety.
- Report on the current FAA in-take and response process for noise complaints and the process expected after the Noise Complaint and Inquiry Database and Tracking System (Noise Portal) is implemented nationally.
- Encourage research on the health effects of exploding aircraft noise throughout the United States.
- The measure also adopted various Case requests for maximum support of other national programs of special importance to Hawai‘i, including:
- $5 billion in COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG), as well as flexibility for FTA to amend the local cost share for Full Funding Grant Agreement CIG projects, such as the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, due the impacts of the COVID pandemic.
- $162 million for the Essential Air Service Program, which supports rural communities, such as Hāna and Kamuela, to ensure essential air service.
- $61.9 billion, consistent with the INVEST in America Act, for highway programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund, an increase of $14.7 billion.
- A directive to the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) to report to the Congress on shoreline erosion impacting roadways in Hawai‘i and the island U.S. Territories. The report is to include a list of coastal roads most vulnerable to sea level rise and recommendations for addressing shoreline erosion impacting these roadways. FHWA is also directed to provide technical assistance to departments of transportation in Hawai‘i and the affected territories as they develop their transportation budgets and priorities.
- $7.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program, including $3.5 billion, a $100 million increase, for FY 2021, and $4 billion for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.