WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the Transportation, House, and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018, which includes several Alaska-specific provisions secured by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) such as the Essential Air Service, a vital program serving rural communities across Alaska.
“Alaska’s transportation needs are unique and diverse, and despite being ripe with opportunity, we have many needs that must be addressed such as a lack of infrastructure. Whether it is short construction seasons, changing permafrost conditions, or access to isolated communities, we face many challenges with transportation and meeting housing needs,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I’m pleased my fellow Senate appropriators recognized these dire needs and worked with me to provide the funds we desperately need to address the issues we face. As Alaska continues to deal with a major financial crunch, these allocated funds are more critical than ever.”
Expanding Transportation in Alaska:
- Essential Air Service: Provides $274 million to support access for rural communities otherwise isolated from the National Air Transportation System.
- Air Carriers: A recent change in FAA regulations would require intermittent large air cargo carriers in Alaska to use National Weather Service forecasted reports. Senator Murkowski secured language that allows these carriers to continue flying by permitting the use of currently available weather reports, given that the National Weather Service covers only the continental U.S. and Hawaii. As a result, the air carriers can continue to deliver necessary and even life-saving deliveries of cargo to remote locations in Alaska.
- Tribal Transportation Program (TTP): Provides $485 million for Tribal Transportation Program for FY18. Increased funding has been provided beyond the 3% set aside from the TTP fund for the Tribal Bridge Program and the Tribal Transportation Safety Program to provide for deferred maintenance on tribal bridges and roads.
- Transportation Investment Generating Economic Development (TIGER) Grants: Provides $550 million for capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities, such as investing in road, rail, transit, and port projects to maintain transportation networks critical to Alaska.
- Indian Housing Block Grants: Provides $655 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant, to provide a range of affordable housing activities on Indian reservations and Indian areas.
- Indian Community Development Fund: Allocates $60 million for the Indian Community Development Program within the Community Development Fund, used for developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities.
- Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund: Provides $1 million for the Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund, a home mortgage specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities, and provides a loan level of $270,270,270.
- HUD-VASH Demonstration Program for Homeless and At-Risk Native Vets: Allocates $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers, a demonstration program offering permanent homes and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are experiencing or risk experiencing homelessness.
- Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program: Allocates $950 million to fund the HOME Investment Partnerships program, which provides grants to States and localities to fund building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.
- Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: Provides $140 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which operates under the trade name NeighborWorks.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]