Millions in federal Covid-19 relief funds went out to renters burdened with financial hardships across the islands last year, but homeowners defaulting on their mortgages were largely left behind.

On Friday, Oahu homeowners have an opportunity to apply for up to $30,000 for each household through the first mortgage relief program on Hawaii’s most populous island. Relief funds can go toward mortgage coverage, property taxes, utility payments, homeowners association fees and other expenses.

The American Rescue Plan Act has made $50 million available for homeowner assistance statewide — $30 million allocated to Oahu and $20 million for neighboring islands.

McCully Street view of rental apartments outside Waikiki.
About 17,000 homeowners are in need of assistance statewide, officials said. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Approximately 17,000 homeowners are currently in need of assistance statewide, according to Kainalu Severson the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s director of emergency financial assistance.

“The funds allocated for the Oahu program can only serve between 2,000 and 3,000 homeowners,” he said. Priority will be given to people behind on their mortgages earning at or below 100% area median income as well as “socially disadvantaged ethnic groups.”

The state’s Housing Finance and Development Corp. contracted CNHA to spearhead the program for Oahu homeowners while other homeowner assistance programs are underway in Hawaii, Kauai and Maui counties.

Outer Island Resources

“Helping people avoid foreclosure and displacement during this pandemic is a top priority,” said HHFDC Executive Director Denise Iseri-Matsubara. “We want to be able to help those homeowners with the greatest need so they can remain in their homes.”

For information on how to qualify and apply, Severson recommends going to their website and reviewing the required documents. Applications will be accepted beginning at 10 a.m. Friday Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. and the portal will close after the first 1,000 applications are submitted.

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