Local Nonprofits to Receive $1.54 Mil in COVID-19 Relief Aid

May 7, 2020, 7:30 AM HST (Updated May 7, 2020, 12:18 AM)
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Logo courtesy of The Food Basket.

Hawai‘i County is set to receive $1.54 million in a federal Community Development Block Grant to support local nonprofits in their efforts to provide relief to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The special funding allocation was provided through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The monies will provide funds for community organizations impacted by the coronavirus such as food preparation, distribution and delivery, as well as emergency rent and mortgage assistance payments.

The following organizations have received funding:

      • The Food Basket will receive $643,000 to support its food distribution programs including the ‘Ohana Food Drop program, in which the nonprofit partners with local farmers, organizations and businesses to provide and distribute food and prepared meals to those in need.
      • The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island will receive $200,000 to support its food preparation and delivery program serving vulnerable populations (homeless and poverty level elderly and families), as well as households residing in rural communities.
      • Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council (HCEOC) will receive $150,000 to support its food preparation and delivery program serving the elderly and disabled population.
      • Hope Services, in partnership with the County of Hawaiʻi, will utilize its $300,000 allocation to provide emergency rent and mortgage assistance payments to those impacted by COVID-19 who meet the income requirements.

    “These funds made available by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development are greatly appreciated, and will be such an asset to these programs that provide much-needed services during these hard times,” Mayor Harry Kim said. “It is noted that all of these funds will be allocated to those nonprofits to give direct services to those in need.”

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    The state is set to receive $1.25 billion as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Kim told County Council members Wednesday he was not aware of how much Hawaii County will receive or when it will become available.

    “The only answer I have is the governor has assured me more than once that the money will be distributed to the remaining counties,” he said. “Up to yesterday (Tuesday) morning, the governor still hasn’t received cash-in-hand or further instruction on what it’s used for aside from the general instruction.”

    During Wednesday’s meeting, Deputy Finance Director Deanna Sako said monies awarded through the CARES Act are only to support the COVID-19 response, not shortfalls in the county budget.

    Sako assured the Council that the county was monitoring all different grants available. Staff continues to bid on masks, personal protective equipment and disinfectants.

    “(The) state is putting (CARES Act) monies together by population,” Sako said. “We just hope for a portion of that. We’re trying to monitor every funding source and take advantage of each one.”

    Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said she was impressed with how the community has come together during this crisis.

    “The Big Island’s heart is just so big,” Kierkiewicz said. “I think we all need to exercise some compassion and know we’ll all pull through together.”

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