HILO — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday a nearly $67 million disaster relief grant for the state of Hawaii.
The grant, totaling $66.9 million, was awarded in part because of efforts of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who said “the vast majority” of the grant will be awarded to Hawaii County in an effort to aid recovery following the various disasters that struck the island last year.
The funding is intended to help state and county governments rebuild communities affected by the disasters, particularly those in low- to moderate-income areas, as well as help businesses recover.
“It’s great news for Hawaii Island,” Schatz said. “It’s extremely flexible money, it’s more than we expected and, most importantly, there’s a battle going on over disaster funding, and getting this money now means we won’t be caught in the crossfire.”
Schatz said the money from the grant is the same sum that would have been awarded to the state through a $19 billion federal disaster relief package beset by partisan scuffling. While some House Republicans broke rank on Friday to pass that bill, President Donald Trump has been vocal in his opposition to it.
By separating Hawaii’s recovery funding from that bill, Schatz said, the state is assured to receive the money, regardless of the outcome of the bill.
Schatz said the grant has been in the works for more than 10 months.
“It’s been a daily effort for us and, sometimes, a daily battle,” he said. “Getting this done is a big victory.”
With this new grant, the state has now received $429 million in total federal disaster relief funding, $254 million of which has been directed to Hawaii County.