A bill to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1446 AND H.R. 1135, A BILL TO REAUTHORIZE THE HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITES HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROGRAM.
February 14, 2018
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1446 and H.R. 1135, bills to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities historic preservation program.
The Department supports S. 1446 and H.R. 1135. This bill would reauthorize funding for the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and structures on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for fiscal years 2018 through 2024, at a level of $10 million annually. This program provides infrastructure support for these important institutions.
The funding authorized by S. 1446 and H.R. 1135 would support public-private partnership efforts to revitalize historic HBCU buildings. Repairs would improve safety and functionality, including stabilizing structures, repairing damaged masonry, abating environmental hazards such as lead paint and asbestos, replacing antiquated electrical and plumbing systems, fixing leaking roofs, repairing termite damage, and providing handicapped accessibility. The historic buildings on these campuses have specialized repair needs, requiring highly skilled trades and quality materials, the costs of which may strain a limited college budget.
Between 1998 and 2009, almost $60 million of Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grants were awarded to HBCUs. These HPF apportionments supported over 60 institutions, funding 131 infrastructure projects. While the prior annual authorization (P.L. 104-333, as amended by P.L. 108-7) expired at the end of 2008, in some subsequent years, Congress has appropriated funding for historic preservation grants to HBCUs under the broader authority of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 USC 302906). HBCUs continue to proudly provide opportunities for higher education, show us that education can serve as a path to prosperity, and preserve an important part of the American story.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.