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Since launching in September 2020, Hawaiʻi’s Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program has distributed nearly $60 million in rental assistance to 13,690 Hawai‘i households. Maui County received more than $10 million of the assistance to help about 2,500 households.
The program partnered with Aloha United Way, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i and other non-profits; was funded through the federal CARES Act; and managed by Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.
A recent analysis by the Hawai‘i Budget & Policy Center found the program, which ended Dec. 31, 2020, delivered more housing assistance to help renters per capita than any other state effort across the country, according to James Koshiba, founder of Hui Aloha and a former Chair of the House Subcommittee on COVID-19 & Housing.
“To get $60 million out the door in just under three months to Hawai‘i households plus expend additional funds for partners, systems and administrative staffing is remarkable,” Koshiba said. “The success of the program was due to heroic effort and sacrifices by [Aloha United Way, Catholic Charities Hawaiʻi and Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation].”
In early September, the state’s Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program was quickly launched to provide much-needed financial assistance for renters and homeowners severely impacted by COVID-19. The program also indirectly helps landlords whose tenants were struggling to meet rent.
Through the program, Aloha United Way distributed nearly $21 million to Hawai‘i renters and homeowners through partnerships with more than a dozen non-profit agencies. Catholic Charities Hawai‘i distributed another $38 million with four partner agencies. The partner agencies are listed below.
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The program received more than 18,300 applications in its first five weeks of operation (September/October). The program concluded Dec. 31, 2020.
$59,733,688 in housing assistance funding was approved for 13,709 households;
68 percent of households receiving assistance were at 50 percent area median income or lower;
15 percent of applicants receiving assistance reported no income;
4,824 applications were denied due to ineligibility; and
$59,003,328 has been disbursed to 13,690 qualified households (an average of $4,310 per household) as of January 13, 2021.
“We want to thank those who applied for the state assistance program for their patience and understanding,” said Rob Van Tassell, CEO and President of Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. “We are acutely aware of the anxiety and stress in the community during these challenging times; we did all within our means to expedite the payment process. Our dedicated and hard-working staff worked tirelessly to process applications and get rent relief out as quickly as possible.”
Aloha United Way President and CEO John Fink said: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, many of Hawai‘i’s families, including those from moderate-income households that never needed housing financial assistance before, found themselves struggling to make ends meet. With our 101-year history of service to our local community, AUW has been honored to be part of this effort to assist people during these extremely unusual and challenging times.”
Assistance by County, with data as of Dec. 31, 2020
Hawai‘i County: More than $2.5 million assisted nearly 700 households
Maui County: More than $10 million assisted approximately 2,500 households
Kauai County: $3.8 million assisted more than 900 households
Honolulu County: More than $41.3 assisted more than 9,500 households
“What we received here on Kaua‘i with the rent relief program has greatly assisted me and my family,” said Anna, a Kaua‘i resident and small business owner for six years. “I have two little ones. I’m a single mom. And I’ve really felt the struggle. The lack of security was definitely a stressor. Now that I’ve gotten the rent relief, it’s helped my emotional well-being and helped me in the workplace.”
The RRHAP was funded by $100 million in State CARES relief appropriations through Act 9 (SLH 2020) and ran in parallel to the housing assistance programs administered by the City and County of Honolulu and Hawai‘i County.
In line with industry norms for non-profit partnerships and CARES funding parameters, an amount of up to 15 percent ($15 million) for the program was allotted for the cost of administering the program, including administrative and operational expenses incurred by CCH, AUW, non-profit partners, and the State of Hawai‘i.
The preliminary final expenditures to administer the program amounted to approximately $10.3 million, well below the allocated funding for program administration. The remaining balance of program appropriations, about $30 million, has been returned to the State of Hawai’i unemployment insurance fund.
The application period for this program has ended, and new applications are not being accepted. However, applications that were approved for payment before the program’s conclusion on Dec. 30 are still being paid in January.
Aloha United Way is allowing final landlord verification forms to be submitted up to Jan. 30. Applicants can find out if a landlord form is outstanding by looking up their application status at https://www.auw.org/rrhap-application-status
Aloha United Way’s RRHAP non-profit partner agencies
Gregory House Programs
Institute for Human Services
Parents and Children Together
The Salvation Army
Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
Waikiki Community Center
Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union
Hawaii State Federal Credit Union
Hotel and Travel Industry Federal Credit Union
Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union
Hickam Federal Credit Union
Catholic Charities Hawai`i’s RRHAP partner agencies
Family Promise of Hawaii
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies
Unite Here! Local 5