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County Opens Voluntary Housing Buyout Program Phase 2 for Eruption Recovery

October 28, 2021, 11:09 AM HST
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Fissure 8 and Leilani Estates viewed from the south. Houses in the foreground are located in the southern portion of Leilani Estates. Fissure 8 and surrounding lava and tephra deposits are shrouded in steam, caused by rain water being heated by the warm deposits. PC: USGS

The County of Hawai‘i will begin accepting Phase 2 applications for the Voluntary Housing Buyout Program (VHBP) for Kīlauea Eruption Recovery on the first of next month.

Eligible Phase 2 properties include secondary homes and long-term rentals that were impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. Full-time vacation rentals that operated exclusively as a business are not eligible under this program. The Phase 2 application period runs from Nov. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2022.

“We are pleased to reopen the application period for the Voluntary Housing Buyout Program to continue providing this recovery solution for applicants,” said Douglas Le, County Disaster Recovery Officer. “We also invite owners of impacted primary residences that missed the Phase 1 application period to apply during Phase 2.”

The County’s VHBP staff are processing about 300 applications from Phase 1. Since the launch of the VHBP, 91 properties that could be served through this program as a second home or long-term rental have registered ahead of Phase 2. Registration assists the County with assessing demand and providing program updates to potential applicants but is not required to apply.

The County’s initial damage assessment identified 294 primary residences and 318 secondary residences that were inundated by lava. Properties can be eligible for the VHBP if they are inundated and isolated by lava or impacted by heat or steam.

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“We are touched by the many stories applicants have shared with us about what this program means to them and their recovery,” said Julie Leialoha, Program Manager for the VHBP. “We know that many are still struggling after losing their home, and we look forward to begin closing on the first purchases around the new year.”

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The VHBP is funded by $107 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program.

Property purchase offers for eligible applicants are based on the 2017 pre-eruption appraised market value by the County’s Real Property Tax Division, up to $230,000. Seventy percent of the funds need to support applicants who are low- to moderate-income.

An application form will be available starting Nov. 1 online. Videos explaining the application process can also be found at that location.

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Applicants may also use the form to apply for the County’s Housing Relocation Services Program. Applicants with long-term tenants currently or at the time of the eruption are required to identify them in case they need relocation assistance.

Acquired properties will be owned by the County and managed as open space to reduce risks from future eruptions.

For questions, call 808-961-8996 or email [email protected].

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