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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Can I qualify for Honolulu’s rental aid if I’ve already gone back to work?

Question: Regarding the rent relief, will people who needed help for months, but couldn’t apply because the application portal was closed or their application was not processed, receive help retroactively for those months, even if they have since gone back to work?

Answer: Yes, if the household qualifies for the program — current unemployment is not the sole criteria for eligibility. Eligible households can use Honolulu County’s Rental and Utility Relief Program to pay past-due rent (dating back to March 13, 2020), upcoming rent or both, according to its website, oneoahu.org/renthelp. The program also covers certain utility bills, such as electricity, water, sewer and gas.

“People who have gone back to work can qualify if they meet income limits and can show their household has been financially affected by the pandemic: loss of income or higher household expenses,” Patrick Williams, a spokesman for Honolulu County’s Office of Economic Revitalization, said in an email.

Answering a related question, Williams said that a person whose application was declined in an earlier round can reapply if their financial situation has changed. “Their best option is to reach out to the case manager who handled their original application,” he said.

Only one member of any household should apply.

The program reopened to new applications Thursday, after being paused for weeks while pending applications were processed. According to the program’s website, a household can qualify if:

>> It can show financial harm from the pandemic and at least one member is at risk of losing their housing, and total household income is 80% of area median income or lower. For a household of four, that is $100,700 a year or less.

>> Or, a household can qualify if at least one member has been unemployed for 90 days or more at the time of application.

Q: Are they paying mortgages yet?

A: No. “The program cannot pay for mortgages due to federal guidelines,” according to the website.

Q: What about landlords?

A: Yes. The rent aid is paid directly to landlords, who can apply on behalf of their tenants, with their tenants’ written consent.

Q: If I have multiple tenants, can I help more than one apply?

A: Yes, as long as they live in different households. Only one tenant from each household can qualify.

Q: What’s the maximum payment?

A: Up to $2,500 a month, in combination for rent (up to $2,000) and utilities (up to $500). Monthly aid can last for up to 12 months — to a maximum of $30,000 in benefits — but eligibility must be verified every three months. As mentioned, the money is not paid to the tenant, but to the landlords and utilities they owe.

Q: What is acceptable for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for a Hawaii flight? Not everyone gets a CDC card.

A: Assuming that you are eligible for the vaccine exception for arriving passengers through Hawaii’s Safe Travels program, a CDC COVID-19 vaccination card is the preferred document, but a VAMS (Vaccine Administration Management System) printout or certificate; DOD DD Form 2766C; SMART Health Card with your vaccine record (which can be uploaded via CommonPass or vaccine record uploaded to CLEAR Health Pass); or proof of vaccination (source document) provided by a medical provider or authorized COVID-19 vaccination administrator also would suffice, according to the state of Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal.

Mahalo

Mahalo for the kind person who looked out for my mom when I had to drop her off for a lab test and leave to get to work on time. There were a lot more people waiting than I expected. When my wife got there, Mom said another patient had let her know when her number was called, helped her up to her walker and made sure she had a ride home. We all are so grateful. — T.L.


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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