12/29/15: The national Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) was created in 1976 to carry out provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act. The Historic Preservation Fund provides support for the nation’s historic preservation programs, including those that have been integral for historic and cultural properties in Hawai‘i.
The U.S House of Representatives and U.S Senate failed to reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund before it expired on September 30. However, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee included the reauthorization in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S.566) on November 19, 2015. The Senate and House both need to approve the measure in order for it to be sent to the President for signing before becoming law.
The expiration of the HPF creates uncertainty for the future of one of our nation’s most important historic preservation programs.
Among other programs, the HPF supports the Historic Tax Credits program, which helps to rehabilitate historic districts such as the Kunia Villages workforce housing for agricultural workers on O‘ahu, as well as commercial buildings in Honolulu’s Chinatown and Downtown, and mom-and-pop stores such as the Mā‘alaea General Store on Maui. The historic rehabilitation tax credits help retain places that are touchstones of community identity and pride, while providing job creation, tangible links to the history and culture of the area, and an authentic sense of place for our Islands.
The HPF also provides funding for State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices across the country. In FY15 the Hawai‘i State Historic Preservation Office received over $574,000 from the HPF to support programs such as the National Register of Historic Places, Certified Local Government grants, and bringing a local voice to federal decision making on matters to could affect our historic places. The State of Hawai‘i also provides a 40 percent match to the federal funds. The work of the state historic preservation division has been crucial in working with federal agencies to preserve, protect, and appropriately use cultural resources as diverse as the Honouliuli Confinement Camp National Monument, the Pearl Harbor National Historic District, the USS Arizona Memorial, and dozens of other historic and cultural resources.
The driving force behind many of these ventures comes through the programs supported by the Historic Preservation Fund, which was up for reauthorization at the end of fiscal year 2015. Like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the HPF receives funding through Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenue, not tax dollars. Without authorization, the HPF will not be able to receive new funding.
In a letter to Congress in September, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell noted that several historic milestones will occur in 2016: the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial anniversary; it is the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, and the 40th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Fund.
“Reauthorization of the HPF would highlight its years of success in preserving our American heritage and continue the support for valuable economic and cultural investments in local communities,” wrote Jewell.
Historic Hawai‘i Foundation is working with the national preservation advocacy organization Preservation Action, as well as the public policy group of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to support the reauthorization of the HPF.