The program is expected to assist between 8,000 and 11,000 households with rent payments, according to Denise Iseri-Matsubara, director of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.
Under the program, funds for rental relief can go up to $2,000 per month for households on Oahu and $1,500 a month for households on the neighbor islands.
To be eligible, applicants need to make less than area median income which for a family of four on Oahu means $125,900 in annual household income.
The state has a full list of eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply for the program on its website.
Payments will be made directly to landlords and not to tenants “to make sure payment is actually made,” Iseri-Matsubara said. However, tenants, not landlords, must fill out the application for rental assistance.
The application could take a couple weeks to process with an additional week for payments to be made, she said. The payments can be dispersed in lump sums that could cover up to three months of rent.
Have proof of valid and current tenancy for a primary residence in the State of Hawaii.
18 years of age or older.
Can demonstrate a loss of income directly resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can demonstrate that your current household income does not exceed 100% Area Median Income.
Aloha United Way President John Fink said the organization is partnering with local credit unions to process those applications. Catholic Charities Hawaii President Rob Van Tasell said they will work with labor unions and rental advocates to spread word of the rental assistance program.
The other $50 million will go to a separate program that could cover back payments on rent and mortgages that have accumulated since March 1, according to the governor. In July, Ige withheld half the rental assistance funds because the budget specified that the money could only be used for rent starting Aug 1.
“The Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) believes, and I agree, that an initial working capital of $50 (million) is sufficient to start a program from now until the end of the year,” Ige wrote in a July statement to lawmakers on his rationale for withholding funds.
But the remaining $50 million worth of rental funds are tied up with about another $270 million until Sept. 15 because the governor line-item vetoed those funds. Sept. 15 is the deadline for bills that cleared the Legislature in July to go into law or be vetoed by Ige.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell