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Nonprofits, County Partner to Create Changes to Emergency Rental Assistance Program

September 24, 2021, 3:01 PM HST
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Seven local nonprofit organizations are collaborating with the county to create changes to the Hawaiʻi County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) in an effort to provide a safety net for local renters in financial hardship.

The announcement comes as the State of Hawaiʻi and Federal rental eviction moratoriums have ended.

“It’s important for our community to know that we are here for them and that we are doing all we can to make sure that these funds end up in the hands of those who need it most,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “We are asking everyone out there who may be experiencing a hard time to just try and apply. A little bit of help can go a long way in ensuring that our local families keep the roofs over their head as we head into the holiday season.”

ERAP is funded by the County of Hawaiʻi through federal monies and will provide grants to an estimated 2,000 local renter households whose income qualifies and attest to financial hardship in writing. Funding is limited to renters who live on Hawaiʻi Island.

Households are limited to 15 months of total grant assistance, including assistance from previous programs.

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Program changes will include the following:

  • Grants will be available for past due rent and utilities, three months of rent in advance, rental deposits, and temporary hotel or motel stays.
  • All Hawaiʻi Island renters below 80% area median income (see right) who provide an unemployment letter or attest to financial hardship in writing will be eligible for grant assistance.
  • Grants will be available through June 30, 2022, pending the availability of funds.
  • Temporary housing options will be made available at hotels and motels for local renters who have experienced eviction or are currently houseless.
  • Additional Housing Navigators will be hired and trained to help local renters find housing that is affordable.
  • Rental deposit funds up to one additional month’s rent will be made available to landlords and property management companies who rent to low-income Hawaiʻi Island renters supported by Housing Navigators.
  • Fees for rental applications, moving costs, damages to hotel and motel stays beyond normal wear-and-tear, and legal services will be funded for qualified, low-income renters.
  • Financial counseling and affordable loans for low-income renters will be offered through Financial Empowerment and Opportunity Centers.
  • Increased legal services and landlord-tenant mediation will be available to assist more local renters in need.
  • Community Navigators will be hired and trained to go out into hard-to-reach communities to promote financial assistance available to renter households facing hardship.
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The Mayor and ERAP nonprofit partners are encouraging community groups, faith-based organizations, employers, public agencies, utility companies, landlords, service providers, and policymakers to help share the announcement island-wide.

To qualify for grants for past due rent or utilities, three months of rent in advance, rental deposits, or temporary hotel or motel stays, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a Hawai’i Island renter
  • At least 18 years old
  • Proof of financial hardship (provide an unemployment/PUA approval letter or request an attestation form from nonprofit providers to confirm financial hardship in writing)
  • 2020 or current annual gross household income at or below 80% of area median income for the number of members in their household. See the chart above to determine if your household income qualifies.
    ERAP prioritizes households at or below 50% of area median income with household members who have been unemployed for 90 days preceding the date of the application.

Applicants will be required to submit the following documents with their applications to be considered for rent or utility assistance:

  • Proof of Resident and Age
  • Copy of photo ID
  • Income Documents for ALL household members (provide all that apply)
  • All pages and scheduled for 2020 Federal Tax Form OR
  • 30 days most recent pay stubs
  • 1 month most recent business bank statements (if self-employed)
  • Unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefit letter
  • Public benefit statements
  • Other income documentation (child/alimony support letter, pension/retirement statement) Housing
  • Copy of completed, current, and signed rental lease/contract
  • Applicants must also provide proof of hardship with one of the following documents:
  • Unemployment or PUA approval letter
  • Written attestation (request from nonprofit)
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Additionally, for housing assistance need, one also must provide one of the following:

  • Past due rent notice with the amount owed
  • Eviction notice with the amount owed
  • Past-due utility notice

For more information or to apply, visit www.HawaiCountyERAP.org. Apply directly with any of the nonprofit organizations below:

HOPE Services 
357 Waianuenue Avenue  Hilo, HI 96720 
www.hopeserviceshawaii.org  808-935-3050 [email protected] 

Hawaiʻi First Federal Credit Union 
1221 Kīlauea Avenue, Suite 150  Hilo, HI 96720 
www.hawaiifirstfcu.com  808-933-6600  [email protected] 

Neighborhood Place of Puna 
16-105 Opukahaia Street Keaʻau, HI 96749 
www.neighborhoodplace.org  808-965-5550 [email protected] 

Habitat for Humanity Hawaiʻi Island 
73-4161 Uluwini Place  Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 
www.habitathawaiiisland.org 808-843-0071  [email protected] 

The Salvation Army 
219 Ponahawai Street  Hilo, HI 97620 
hawaii.salvationarmy.org  808-935-1277  [email protected] 

Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council 
47 Rainbow Drive  Hilo, HI 96720  www.hceoc.net 808-932-2714 [email protected] 

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