Honolulu will be sending $500 gift cards to 6,000 individuals and households who were negatively impacted by the pandemic, city officials announced on Monday.

The cards can be used only at grocery stores and convenience stores for purchasing essential goods like food and other household items, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a press conference at Foodland Farms. Alcohol, tobacco, bus passes and other gift cards are not eligible purchases.

The cards will be sent to households who have already demonstrated a hardship by applying to the city’s CARES Act-funded Household Hardship Relief program and other city programs, according to Amy Asselbaye, the director of Honolulu’s Office of Economic Revitalization.

Asselbaye declined to identify those other programs citing unspecified “privacy issues.” To deliver the funds as quickly as possible, there is no application process, Asselbaye said.

“Hopefully it helps them out a lot during the holidays,” she said.

The first set of 4,000 recipients should get their cards by around Dec. 7 and have until Dec. 27 to spend the money, Asselbaye said.

Another 2,000 people will benefit once the city has “confirmed their eligibility,” said Patrick Williams, a spokesman for the Office of Economic Revitalization.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author