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OHA to Distribute Over $1 Million in COVID Relief to Native Hawaiians

June 3, 2021, 11:14 AM HST
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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is releasing more than $1 million in grants to help Native Hawaiians impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

OHA announced Wednesday, June 2 that it is making $1,044,253 available to implement an emergency financial assistance program for individuals who qualify. OHA’s Ka Wailele Emergency Financial Assistance Program is being administered by Hawaiʻi Community Lending (HCL), a Native Hawaiian community development financial institution.  

Native Hawaiians who are at least 18 years old and in financial hardship are encouraged to review program requirements and apply. Program applications became available starting June 1 at 8 a.m. No income requirements apply. 

Ka Wailele will provide grants up to $1,500 for past due rent, mortgage, utilities and rent deposits to an estimated 520 households that can prove Native Hawaiian ancestry, Hawaiʻi residency, financial hardship, and need for housing and/or utility assistance. Native Hawaiians are limited in receiving OHA emergency financial assistance to one grant every two years. 

HCL will process applications, and payments will be made directly to landlords, mortgage lenders, or utility providers. Approved applicants will also have access to financial counseling, additional grants or affordable loans, and career coaching through Financial Opportunity Centers run by HCL’s parent corporation, Hawaiian Community Assets. 

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“Supporting Native Hawaiian ‘ohana in successfully navigating the challenges they face is integral to the work we do at OHA,” said OHA Ka Pouhana/CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey. “We hope that the emergency financial assistance from OHA will help alleviate some of the stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as connect ‘ohana with other valuable resources that are available to them.” 

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Native Hawaiians in financial hardship should apply online at www.oha.org/emergencyaid or www.kawailele.org

Persons without internet access or a computer are encouraged to call HCL at (808) 587-7656 to request a paper application or complete an application over the phone. In-person assistance will be available at Financial Opportunity Centers and remote offices statewide

Ka Wailele Program Requirements 

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To qualify for Ka Wailele grants starting June 1, applicants must meet the following qualifications: 

  • Be Native Hawaiian residing in Hawaiʻi 
  • At least 18 years old
  • Be in financial hardship 
  • Have documents to prove past due rent, mortgage, utilities, or rental deposit 

Required Documents 

Native Hawaiian applicants will be required to submit the following documents with their applications starting June 1 to be considered for OHA’s Ka Wailele grants: 

Proof of Age and Hawaiʻi Residency 

  • Copy of Picture ID 

Native Hawaiian Verification (One of the following) 

  • Copy of Birth Certificate 
  • OHA Hawaiian Registry Card 
  • Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Lease 
  • Kamehameha Schools Hoʻoulu Registry 

Proof of Financial Hardship (One of the following) 

  • Unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) approval letter 
  • Letter from employer verifying you have been laid off or lost hours at work 

Housing (One of the following) 

  • Complete, signed, dated rental lease 
  • Mortgage statement 

Assistance Needed (One of the following) 

  • Past due rent or eviction notice with amount owed 
  • Past due utility or disconnection notice with amount owed 
  • Bill from utility service (i.e., water delivery) 
  • Mortgage statement with past due amount 

Learn more at www.oha.org/emergencyaid. 

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