Relief program keeping Hawaii’s rental market together

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The struggle continues for thousands of local families trying to make rent. The state is offering some help, but that money may not outlast the impacts of the pandemic.

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Currently Hawaii’s rental market is being kept afloat by a $87,500,000 relief program that is set to expire at the end of the year. So far, $9,830,000 has been paid out to landlords, but officials say with nearly 15,000 applications still pending, new applications are on pause.

Lawmakers are hoping landlords and tenants come to an agreement on their own.

“If there is this willingness to work towards payment plans, then, I really hope that any lawyers or anyone who is in this arena assisting landlords and tenants, that they really look into the mediation services available to them because that at the end of the day will help to actually resolve potentially a larger set of problems,” State House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti said.

With Capitol Hill still in a stalemate to give further federal funding to struggling states and citizens, the state is kicking the tires on how to provide more relief.

“I hope that rental assistance continues throughout the next year,” State Representative Takashi Ohno said. “Obviously having people off the streets, is good for our families, but you know once that does happen it’s just another burden that we have to take care of on the Human Services side.”

Homelessness and costly court battles are likely scenarios when eviction moratoriums inevitably come to an end.

There are also the issues of what could be a squeeze on affordable housing options as low interest rates attract out-of-state buyers and luxury investors.

“For folks who have been paying attention to the housing process here, we’ve discussed things like conveyance tax increases, we’ve discussed things like trying to make it easier for families to afford homes here.” Rep. Ohno said.

Majority Leader Belatti added that county assistance is still available for those looking for rental relief:

Honolulu County,Kauai County, Maui County, Hawaii County

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