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Issue: Historic Preservation

Request

We urge Congress to:

  • support the permanent reauthorization of Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), increase the authorization to $300 million annually by supporting the Historic Preservation Enhancement Act H.R.6589.
  • support FY 2023 funding of at least $65 million for State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and at least $24 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs).
  • provide at least $35 million for Save America’s Treasures.
  • provide at least $24 million for African American Civil Rights Grants, $12 million for Historically Black Colleges/Universities, $5 million for Equal Rights Grants, and $3 million for Underrepresented Community Grants.
  • support at least $12 million for Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization grants for the rehabilitation of historic properties and economic development of rural communities.
  • continue to support the Historic Tax Credit by cosponsoring the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (H.R. 2294 / S. 2266).
  • support at least $10 million in funding for U.S. Semiquincentennial celebration grants for the country’s 250th commemoration.

Introduction

State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) carry out the work of the federal government in the states and tribal communities: finding America’s historic places, making nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, reviewing impacts of federal projects, providing assistance to developers seeking a rehabilitation tax credit, creating alliances with local government preservation commissions and conducting preservation education and planning. This federal-state-local foundation of America’s historic preservation program was established by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

Established in 1998, Save America’s Treasures is a public-private partnership that includes the National Park Service, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other federal cultural agencies. The grant program helps preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections that convey our nation’s rich heritage to future generations of Americans. Since 1999, there have been almost 4,000 requests for funding totaling $1.54 billion. In response to these requests, $340 million was awarded to more than 1,300 recipients creating more than 16,000 jobs across the country. The projects include iconic objects like the Star-Spangled Banner and major historical structures like the office of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program was created in fiscal year 2018 that supports the rehabilitation of historic properties and fosters economic development of rural communities through subgrants. This program funds physical preservation projects for historic sites, including architectural and engineering services through subgrants to rural communities.

The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) was permanently written into the tax code over three decades ago and has been a widely used redevelopment tool for cities, towns, and rural communities across the country. The HTC has a proven track record of stimulating economic growth and creating jobs through public-private leveraging opportunities. Through the life of the program, the HTC has created more than 2.4 million well-paying, local jobs, leveraged more than $131 billion in private investment, and preserved more than 42,000 buildings that form the historic fabric of our nation

Talking Points

  • The 2005 Heritage Health Index (HHI) of archives, libraries, historical societies, and museums concluded that action is needed to prevent the loss of 190 million artifacts that are in need of conservation treatment: 59 percent have collections damaged by light, 56 percent have insufficient security to protect their collections, 80 percent do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, 71 percent need additional training and expertise for staff caring for collections, and only 13 percent have access to endowment funds for preservation.
  • A 2019 Institute of Museum and Library Services report on data from a 10-year follow-up survey on the HHI concluded that preservation is part of the mission for a vast majority of US collecting institutions. Yet many, especially small institutions, have not yet prepared for emergencies and have faced challenges in many actions related to preservation, including conservation practices with digital content.
  • Historic preservation programs, including the Historic Tax Credit, matter now more than ever, not only because they protect our national heritage, but because they also serve as economic development engines and job creators in the many communities they serve. Funds invested in building rehabilitation have been shown to create more jobs and more retail activity than those spent on new construction.
  • In late 2019, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) released its first-ever National Visitation Report. Its survey of 1,250 institutions around the country found that visitation to history organizations increased nearly 6 percent over the past several years and that some of the strongest visitation growth occurred at small history organizations.

Status

  • Historic preservation programs are funded annually through the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
  • The FY 2022 appropriations have yet to be completed, however FY 2021 appropriations for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) provided $55.7 million to State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), $15 million to Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs), and $21.1 million for grants to underserved communities and to document, interpret, and preserve the stories and sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement. Save America’s Treasures (SAT) received $25 million in FY 2021 through the HPF and the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization grant program received $7.5 million. Congress also provided $8 million for the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and $10 million for a National Park Service competitive grant program to honor the 250th anniversary of the United States by restoring and preserving state-owned sites and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places that commemorate the founding of the nation.
  • It is a priority to achieve reauthorization of the HPF, to ensure adequate funding is available to SHPOs, THPOs, and the various grant programs funded through the FY 2023 appropriations process. Specifically, with $500 billion in new infrastructure spending, SHPOs are in dire need of resources to operate their programs and to fulfill responsibilities under the NHPA to review and comment on federal undertakings.

Supporting Letters and Testimony

 

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