City and County of Honolulu still accepting applications for rental and utility relief program

·3 min read

Jun. 11—The City and County of Honolulu is still accepting applications for its Rental and Utility Relief Program this month. It is the first time since the program began in April that the city did not exceeded the maximum amount of applications within a few hours.

The city began accepting up to 10, 000 applications Monday evening, and as of Thursday there were still 4, 000 applications available.

The Office of Economic Revitalization, which manages the program, explained that the reason the office was still able to accept applications is because it accepted more applications this round.

The increased capacity to 10, 000 applications was meant to allow the portal to stay open longer and relieve people's anxiety about having to apply immediately, an office spokesman said.

The first round in April accepted 8, 000 applications and closed in four hours. The second round accepted only 4, 000 applications and closed in less than 30 minutes.

The applications will continue to focus on households below 50 % of the area median income in Honolulu, which is $44, 100 a year for one person and $62, 950 for a family of four. Those who have a member of the household who has been unemployed for at least 90 days, and is still currently unemployed, also will be accepted.

However, the majority of approved applications were from households making about 30 % of the area median income in Honolulu, which is less than $40, 000 a year for a family of four.

Households that qualify will be able to receive up to $2, 500 a month for outstanding rent and utility payments, up to $2, 000 for future rent payments and up to $500 for future utility payments. The total amount of these payments can continue for up to 12 months and will be made directly to the landlord or utility company. The program can cover bills dating back to March 2020.

Honolulu launched the program in early April to distribute $114 million in federal COVID relief for rent and utilities by the end of the year.

In the past two months, the city approved $23 million worth of relief for about 3, 200 households. Out of the 12, 000 applications that were submitted, about 6, 000 were not processed, the common reasons being that they were duplicates or requests for mortgage help, which does not qualify under the program.

A total of 777 applications were declined due to potential fraud, applicants not responding to requests for more information or incorrect information.

That is a large improvement from the city's 2020 Household Hardship Relief Fund, which after 12 weeks distributed only $2.1 million.

The portal will reopen on the first working Monday of each month for as long as funding is available.

"Helping struggling individuals and families to get back on their feet is a top priority, " Office of Economic Revitalization Executive Director Amy Asselbaye said in a statement.

She encouraged residents to apply for the Rental and Utility Relief Program at.

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