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Eligibility for Honolulu Rental and Utility Relief Program expanded

More Oahu families can now qualify for the City and County of Honolulu’s Rental and Utility Relief Program, city officials announced today, due to broader eligibility requirements.

The program’s eligibility requirements have expanded to include renters who have suffered economic harm during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, renters were required to prove hardship due to the pandemic.

Some examples of economic harm that would qualify for the program include:

>> Loss of income since March 13, 2020

>> Loss of a job or reduced hours since March 13, 2020

>> An increase in household costs since March 13, 2020

The program, which pays qualified households up to $2,500 a month for past rent and utility bills, is also increasing the length of support from 12 months to 18 months.

These changes in eligibility and length of support are due to new funding rules from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

“Thanks to the dedication of our community partners, Catholic Charities Hawaii and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, this program has become a foundation of our work to create a fair and equitable recovery,” said Amy Asselbaye, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Revitalization, in a news release. “Now, more local families, keiki, and kupuna will be able to stay safely in their homes. Stable housing plays a major role in keeping our recovery moving forward and protecting the community’s wellbeing.”

Due to new guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, people living on leasehold property can now qualify for their leasehold fees to be paid by the program if they meet eligibility requirements. Leasehold mortgage payments, however, are not eligible.

Additionally, people legally living on boats can have their mooring fees paid by the program if they meet eligibility requirements. However, any mortgage or loan payment for the vessel itself would not qualify.

Since the program began in April 2021, the city says it has injected $115 million in federal funds into Oahu’s recovery, and expects to invest a total of $200 million or more in rent and utility relief for the community.

More than 11,000 families have received support from the relief program, according to officials.

To speed up application processing, officials recommend that each household apply only once.

Renters or landlords with questions should visit oneoahu.org/renthelp and review the Frequently Asked Questions section. If they still have questions, they may call 808-768-CITY (2489). The city’s call center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except for city holidays.

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