City temporarily shuts down rental, utility relief program after overwhelming response from residents in need

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced the start of the Rental and Utility Relief Program, noting that it will start accepting applications as soon as Monday, April 5, at 12 p.m.

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However, the program was not open for long. Due to a large response from Oahu residents in need, the City stated it would temporarily close its Rental and Utility Relief Program to new applications. The program is expected to reopen after the first 8,000 applications have been processed.

People who have started their applications should continue to submit their application materials at the personalized link they were provided.

The portal reopening time is yet to be determined for the next round of applications.

“Helping people who are struggling to get back on their feet is a major part of our recovery strategy,” said Mayor Blangiardi. “The Rental and Utility Relief Program is one of our most powerful tools to get financial support to people who need the most help paying their rent and household utilities that are in arrears. The program has $114 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. Our goal is to spend every dollar equitably and efficiently in supporting our community and our recovery.”

The program requires a qualifying household to:

  • Show financial harm from the pandemic, such as qualifying for unemployment, job loss, reduction in wages, or increase in household expenses.
  • Show at least one household member is at risk of losing their housing.
  • Be below the income limits.

Priority is given to the following applicants:

  • Household income less than 50% of the area median income for Honolulu County; OR
  • Household member has been unemployed for at least 90 days at the time of application AND is still unemployed at the time of application

Only one person per household should apply. In addition, landlords may apply on behalf of their tenants, with the tenants’ permission.

For households that qualify, the program will pay:

  • Up to $2,500 a month in rent and utility.
  • Up to $2,000 for future rent payments.
  • Up to $500 a month for future electric, water and sewer and gas bills.
  • Total payments can be as many as 12 months.
  • Payments will be made directly to a landlord or utility.

The Rental and Utility Relief Program can pay bills going back to March 2020, current bills or future bills, depending on a household’s needs.

“We know that our community is still experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that many residents are still in need of assistance,” said Catholic Charities Hawaii President and CEO Robert Van Tassell. “This emergency rental assistance program is meant to keep tenants in their homes and safely sheltered, while ensuring landlords are properly compensated. We thank Mayor Blangiardi and the City and County of Honolulu for allowing Catholic Charities Hawai’i to be a part of this important program.”

Applications are accepted online here.  

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