East Hawaii News

Next Phase of Housing Buyout Program Begins For Properties Impacted by 2018 Eruption

July 18, 2022, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated July 18, 12:08 PM
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The next phase of the voluntary housing buyout program for properties impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea eruption is underway.

The county began accepting applications for Phase 3 of the program today. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 31. Phase 3 focuses on eligible properties that are undeveloped or vacant. Applications also are still being accepted for eligible primary and secondary homes and long-term rentals.

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“Since the start of this voluntary housing buyout program our aim has been to help eligible property owners impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea eruption with just over $107 million in federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds,” county Disaster Recovery Officer Douglas Le said in a news release. “To make sure we’re able to help as many people as possible with this buyout assistance, maximum grant award amounts were put into place.”

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 for eligible primary and secondary residence property. Following an action plan substantial amendment process with HUD and a public engagement process, the county was approved to establish a maximum grant award of $22,000 for undeveloped property.

The county is processing more than 450 applications for primary and secondary residences from the first two phases of the program. The first five buyout properties were acquired in June. The program has also received just more than 200 registrations for undeveloped properties.

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Primary and secondary homes that applied during the first phases of the program already committed nearly 85% of the HUD funds for the program and an additional 10% of the funds will be used for program delivery and administrative costs. The county aims to use the remaining approximately 5% of the funds for undeveloped properties but cautions that additional primary and secondary home applications submitted during Phase 3 could reduce remaining funds significantly.

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“Unfortunately, it’s likely we won’t be able to serve everyone that applies with the limited grant funds,” Julie Leialoha, program manager for the buyout program, said in the news release. “As we begin Phase 3, eligible primary and secondary homes will be served first; and undeveloped properties will be served based on the availability of remaining funds and ranked by program criteria. For property owners of undeveloped land who are interested in this buyout assistance, we encourage you to submit an application and we’ll do our best to serve as many applicants, especially those who are low- to moderate-income, as possible.”

Buyout program funding requires at least 70% of program funds serve low- to moderate-income households. To make sure the funds are serving those who need them the most, a ranking system was put in place that scores applications based on multiple factors, including whether the eligible property was a residence or undeveloped, household income of applicants, extent of damage and availability of public road access.

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

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For a summary of Phase 3 and how to apply, click here. To understand the buyout process from start to finish, click here.

For answers to frequently asked questions, click here.

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

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