$50 Mil in Federal Funding Dedicated Rental Relief Program

September 8, 2020, 3:37 PM HST (Updated September 8, 2020, 3:37 PM)
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Governor David Ige. PC: State of Hawaii

Hawai‘i residents unemployed or partially unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for rent relief through a new housing assistance program announced by state and nonprofit leaders Tuesday afternoon.

A statewide moratorium on evictions is in place throughout the month of September. Additionally, $50 million from CARES Act funding was dedicated to the Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program, executed through Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i and Aloha United Way.

Click here to apply.

“It will be a much-needed reprieve to families trying to make ends meet,” Gov. David Ige stated in a press conference Tuesday.

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Denise Iseri-Matsubara, Executive Director, Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation, said the program will provide relief of up to $1,500 monthly rent on neighbor islands and $2,000 monthly rent on O‘ahu. The tenant applies to the program and if approved, the money goes directly to the landlord.

Iseri-Matsubara estimated 8,000 to 11,000 families will be served through this program. It will take a couple weeks for applications to be processed and another week to cut a check.

This funding is specifically for families and is not available to small businesses.

During the press conference, Rob Van Tasell, President and CEO, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, stated he was grateful their nonprofit was selected to assist in providing rental assistance.

“People are being asked to stay home during the pandemic so the focus is that people have a home,” Van Tasell said.

John Fink, President and CEO, Aloha United Way, said this is a moment to embrace solutions, and this program will help people hold on to the things they’ve worked to have.

“We’re here to alleviate the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness and avoid homelessness,” Fink added.

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki was present at the press conference through Zoom. He said the state knew rent assistance was a cliff they needed to address. The program, Saiki added, will help not just paying current, but back rent as well.

Ige closed the conference by thanking Hawai‘i residents their sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor said he is aware that food support is important and knows small businesses are struggling since federal aid has discontinued.

Ige encouraged business owners to write to their lawmakers and make their needs known.

“We want to assure all people of Hawai‘i that we continue to find ways to support you in these trying times,” Ige said.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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