HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City and County of Honolulu says it has allocated all CARES Act money given from the state and Federal Government and plans to use up all funds by the end of November.

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Governor David Ige began outlining plans in May to split up the $1.25-billion of CARES Act funding given to Hawaii. The state allocated roughly $860-million dollars to coronavirus response, prevention and recovery activities of which Oahu received $387-million. CARES Act money that is not spent by Dec. 31 must be returned to the federal government.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell outlined how the City would spend that money in three categories: helping people, helping small businesses and protecting people’s health.

“We expect to spend all of the CARES money allocated to Honolulu as close to the end of November as possible to make sure that people get help for the holidays,” said the Honolulu mayor. “The money will be spent according to our recovery plan: Creating a COVID-safe economy, helping people and businesses get back on their feet, and developing new opportunities for a post-COVID-19 economy.”

According to City officials, the funds have been allocated in the following way:

Helping People

Household Hardship Relief Fund

  • Provides $25 million in grants to help people negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • Qualified households receive up to $2,500 a month toward housing, childcare, medical costs and other emergency expenses.

Approximately $6.7 million in Household Hardship Relief Fund assistance has been given to 5,700 applicants, as of Nov. 4.

Helping Small Businesses

Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund

  • Grant aimed at helping small businesses with rent, lease and other emergency expenses. Nearly $126 million in grants has been given to about 6,000 local businesses.
  • More than half of the grants covered businesses’ rent and lease costs.

Pop Up Makeke

  • This Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement initiative to help local businesses adapt to COVID-19 by selling products online is partially supported by CARES Act funding.

Supporting Local Food Production

  • Partnership with the Hawai‘i Longline Association, the Honolulu Fish Auction, the Hawai‘i Seafood Council and the Hawai‘i Food bank to help feed people in need.

Back on the Wave

  • Campaign that helps small businesses implement COVID-19 safety measures. City provides PPE and other health related supplies to participating businesses.

Protecting People’s Health

Mobile COVID-19 Testing Lab

  • Integrated coronavirus testing laboratory at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The lab, paid for by $16-million in CARES Act money offers 42,000 COVID-19 tests, contact tracing capabilities, rapid testing and more.

Free COVID-19 Testing

  • Provides Oahu residents with free coronavirus testing at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii.
  • With CARES Act funding, John A. Burns School of Medicine also offers free COVID-19 testing at their seven community health centers.


  • City secured up to 452 hotel rooms for isolation and quarantine services for residents of Oahu who do not have means to safely isolate as they recover from COVID-19.
  • Rooms can also be used by the City’s first responders who may have come into contact with a positive COVID-19 patient.

For more information and to see an updated look at how CARES Act funding is being spent by the City and County of Honolulu, click here.

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