Honolulu has allocated $25 million in federal CARES Act money to help island residents suffering loss of income from the pandemic with housing, utility and child care costs.

The new hardship relief fund, set to become available on May 18, will reimburse up to $1,000 per month for housing and utility payments and up to $500 per month for child care. Assistance will last up to six months.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the money is part of the $387 million Honolulu received from the federal government to respond to the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to make sure the money is expended in the way it has the most impact for those who need it the most,” he said.

Kids play in the Hawaii Childrens Discovery Center's day care area.
Honolulu will cover child care costs so parents can get back to work, the mayor said. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Helping Hands Hawaii, Aloha United Way and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement are partnering with the city to disburse the funds, which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The mayor said if the funding is used up quickly, he may allocate more. The city has until the end of the year to spend the money, Caldwell said. He wants to be “careful and prudent” about not spending it all too quickly when there may be continued need down the line.

The maximum income for eligibility is 100% of area median income, which is about $90,000 for a family of four, according to Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland. Applicants will have to demonstrate that they are experiencing hardship because of the pandemic and provide supporting documents. Those who are able to can upload the information online. More details about the application process will be posted on oneoahu.org.

For those who cannot afford to pay costs upfront and be reimbursed later, Witty-Oakland said to call Aloha United Way at 211.

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