County closing emergency rental assistance program: Big Island now
On November 1, Hawaii County began closing its Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by Big Island nonprofits.
As the county awaits additional federal dollars, a limited amount of money is available for rent and utility assistance. The Emergency Rent Assistance Program administrator stopped accepting new applications in August because applications received for assistance had not yet been approved.
Priority will be given to all financial aid approved to proceed, and funds will be distributed to families facing eviction, utility shutdown or those who have an unemployed adult and are at risk of homelessness. Assistance will be paid on a first come first served basis.
All applicants will be directed to available job opportunities, resources and services, including landlord-tenant mediation, legal services and other financial aid programs.
The county is working to develop a new rent and utility assistance program that will include connectivity to housing sustainability services such as workforce development programs, financial empowerment services, community services and resources, and the development of a sustainable housing plan. The new program is projected to be available in early 2023.
Mayor Mitch Roth said, “Ensuring that our local families were able to stay in their homes with lights on during and after the pandemic was our top priority, and we were honored to have helped nearly 8,000 families ” a press release.
Since its launch in early 2021, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has distributed nearly $23 million in rent and utility assistance, helping prevent evictions, utility shutdowns and homelessness for more than 7,800 Big Island families .
As the island transitions into the post-pandemic period, renters around the Hawaiian Islands are encouraged to develop sustainable plans to pay rent and utilities without emergency assistance. Residents who need assistance moving away from emergency benefits are encouraged to contact the Emergency Rent Assistance Program Coordination Center for references to resources and services that can help. Financial advisors are also available at County Financial Empowerment Centers.
Additional available services and job openings can be found on the Emergency Hire Assistance Program Website or by calling or texting the coordinate center
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