HONOLULU (KHON2) — One of the most significant financial pressures for some households comes from making their monthly rent payment. 

A new study by Stessa showed renters across the country are seeing an increase of 20% or more as they sign new rental leases. 

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The nationwide vacancy rate is 5.6% meaning renters have few alternatives to find more affordable options. 
The median rent in the Urban Honolulu metro area is now $2,699, compared to $2,429 in 2019—an increase of 11.1%.

According to Stessa the current state of the rental market is a product of both supply and demand with the same issues compiling overtime since the pandemic began.

They report the country has an estimated shortage of nearly 4 million housing units. Zoning and density restrictions have made it more difficult to add housing stock in many locations, both for rentals and in the real estate market. 

The spike in home values and now rising interest rates are making dreams of buying a home even more out of reach. 

The City and County of Honolulu’s Rental Utility Relief Program is still available for many Oahu residents, and income limits have increased to match federal guidelines. Money from this program can go towards rent and utilities. 

For example, if approved the money given could go towards electricity, water and sewer, gas and in some cases internet bills. 

A household can qualify for the program if they can show financial harm during the pandemic and at least one member is at risk of losing their housing. 

The household could also qualify if they are at 80% annual median income or lower. Example, a household of four that makes 96,950 a year or less will qualify.

For those ready to turn in their rental keys and try to purchase a new home Oahu has some programs to help. 

Qualified low-income and moderate-income households may be eligible for interest-free down payment loans to assist in the purchase of their new home.

Director Anton Krucky, Department of Community Services (DCS) said they have $380,000 in HOME funds for the remainder of this fiscal year and is currently accepting pre-eligibility inquiries for loans up to $40,000.

To be eligible, households need to be earning 80% of the area median income or below, which is currently $77,350 for a family of two or $96,650 for a family of four. Loans will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified Oahu residents.

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Click the following links for information on relief programs on OahuMauiHawaii Island and Kauai.