The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday voted again to postpone action on a resolution that would permit Mayor Harry Kim to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for more than $83 million in federal disaster relief funding.
The Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds largely will be used for a voluntary housing buyout program aimed at helping Puna residents whose homes were destroyed during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano.
In order to receive the federal money, HUD required the county to submit an action plan detailing how the allocation will be used. However, the County Housing Agency earlier this month voted to postpone approval of that action plan.
Following that decision, the council also voted to postpone action on the resolution.
A second reading of a bill that would amend the county’s operating budget to appropriate the $83.84 million in block grant money also was postponed Wednesday.
“I wanted to be sure that when the time came to take both matters up, they were both in a place to be approved at the same time so that we could enter into the agreement and get the appropriation all at once,” Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday afternoon. “It didn’t seem right to move into an agreement because we don’t have an action plan approved by the Housing Agency, and the clock on implementing the plan starts as soon as the agreement is in place.”