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Hawaii NewsKokua Line

Kokua Line: PUA offsets loss of primary income, not a second job or side business

Question: I have a regular job (with a boss and a paycheck), plus a small freelance consulting business that I run on my own time. That work has dried up completely with tourism shut down. Could I get PUA funds to offset that loss?

Answer: No. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the federally funded program for fully self-employed people and others not covered by traditional unemployment insurance, would not apply in your situation, according to examples posted on the state Department of Taxation’s website.

“Federal guidelines provide that an individual is considered ‘self-employed’ for purposes of PUA only where their primary reliance for income is on the performance of services in the individual’s own business, or on the individual’s own farm. Any individual that earned more than $130 in 2019 working for an employer who took taxes out of their paycheck is not eligible for PUA but may be eligible for regular unemployment benefits,” it says.

To be clear, since your regular job is not disrupted, you wouldn’t be eligible for UI, either.

Q: I saw something on the news about rent relief for Native Hawaiians. Is that for any Hawaiian? How many people?

A: No, eligibility is restricted to people on the waiting list for Hawaiian homesteads who lost income due to COVID-19 and also meet other criteria. The program is expected to save about 2,500 Hawaii households from eviction, according to a notice on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ website, at 808ne.ws/dhhlauw.

People who qualify might have their security deposit and rent paid for up to six months.

Here is a summary of the rules for the DHHL COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, according to the website:

>> Must be Native Hawaiian as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and on DHHL’s waiting list as of Dec. 31, 2018. No new applications will be considered.

>> Must have lost income or a job due to the pandemic.

>> Must have a total household annual income that does not exceed 80% area median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

>> Rental assistance sought must be for the individual’s primary residence in Hawaii. “The maximum monthly rent for a household to pay may not exceed 30 percent of the family’s monthly adjusted income and the maximum fair market rent that will be considered, as established by HUD’s fair market guidelines,” the website says.

If you think you are eligible, call the Aloha United Way at 211 to apply.

Beneficiaries will be required to verify their loss of income due to the pandemic, as well as other information. Here are the documents required, according to the website:

>> Two months of the most recent pay stubs

>> Two years of the most recent federal tax returns, including all forms, schedules and W-2 forms

>> Two months of the most recent bank statements

>> Rental/lease documentation

>> Verification, if unemployed, that unemployment was caused by the pandemic

Other documents also may be required, depending on individual circumstances, the website says.

Q: Do the restaurants serving takeout have some extra inspection during this time?

A: No. Most food safety inspections have been postponed during the state’s stay-at-home order, according to the Department of Health, which advises customers to check for a “green placard” signifying earlier approval.


Every day, I see people wearing face masks that are below their noses, including sales people and servers in food establishments. They are breathing onto everything as much as if they were not wearing a mask at all. It’s wonderful to see most people wearing masks, but make it count by making sure noses are covered as well! — S.W.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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