ASSISTANCE FOR RENTERS
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ASSISTANCE FOR RENTERS
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program
The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program assists households that are unable to pay rent and/or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State of Hawaii received a total of $200 million. Of that amount, direct allocations went to the City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii County since they met the requirements for direct allocations.
The program is being administered by the counties in an effort to infuse the funds into the community faster, increase efficiency and reduce the chance for duplicating payments. (See links below for each county.)
(The ERA program is made possible through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 enacted on Dec. 27, 2020.)
Eligible renter households are those with incomes of no more than 80% of area median income (AMI) who also meet the following conditions.
- Priority is given to households with incomes of no more than 50% of AMI as well as to households in which one or more household members were unemployed for 90 days prior to application. Each county has worked with their service provider on a system for prioritizing assistance. Click on the link for the respective county program information below.
- One or more individuals in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus outbreak; and
- One or more individuals in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This may include a past due rental or utility notice, an eviction notice unsafe or unhealthy living conditions (such as overcrowding) or any other evidence of risk.
Rental assistance provided to an eligible household should not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household.
Assistance can be used to pay for:
- Rental arrears and future rent payments
- Delinquent and future utility and home energy payments
- Other qualified expenses related to housing
Assistance will be paid directly to the landlord or the utility provider.
How to Apply
City and County of Honolulu
The City and County of Honolulu’s Rental and Utility Relief Program began taking applications on April 5, 2021. For more details, visit https://www.oneoahu.org/renthelp. (While applications are currently being accepted, the program’s portal has at times paused from accepting additional applications. When that happens, however, interested renters should still visit the site to sign up for a notification when the program reopens to applications.)
The Hawaii County Emergency Rental Assistance Program began taking applications on April 12, 2021. Six Hawaii Island-based nonprofit partners will process the applications. Payments will be made directly to landlords, property managers, or utility providers. Information on program requirements and how to apply can be found at www.HawaiiCountyERAP.org.
The County of Kauai’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by the Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union, began accepting applications on May 10, 2021. Families can apply at https://kauairenthelp.com or can express interest by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maui County began accepting applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program on May 10, 2021. More information on how to apply can be found at https://www.mauicounty.gov/MauiRentHelp
Other resources that may be helpful to renters across the state:
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has additional resources for rent and mortgage assistance statewide.
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has its own Emergency Rental Assistance Program available to Native Hawaiians only:
The Emergency Broadband Benefit can help eligible households with internet bills and in some cases, buy laptops, desktops, and tablet computers:
I received an eviction notice from my landlord. What should I do?
Respond to any mediation letters and eviction notices you receive. Apply for rental assistance (see section above) as soon as possible.
Contact the State Landlord-Tenant Hotline (808-586-2634) or a legal services agency, such as the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (808-536-4302), to seek information about your rights as a tenant. The Legislature passed, and the governor signed Act 57, which makes significant changes to the landlord-tenant code and incentivizes mediation.
Whether you’re a renter or a landlord, now is the time to understand the new law:
- Renters have more time to seek assistance and to work out agreements to avoid eviction;
- Renters have a right to mediation; and
- Initially, the Courts can only consider Summary Possession cases for those owing four months of back rent or more.
What about the federal CDC Eviction Order?
On August 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the the federal eviction order, which had been put into effect by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 3, 2021. This means that there is no longer any federal prohibition against evictions for non-payment of rent. To learn more about the Supreme Court decision, please click here. If you have questions about landlord-tenant rights in light of the Supreme Court decision, please contact the State Landlord-Tenant Hotline or a legal services agency, such as the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.
If I am being evicted, how do I get in contact with mediation services?
Please refer to the list of mediation centers in your community:
- Oahu: Mediation Center of the Pacific: SEMP — Mediation Center of the Pacific (mediatehawaii.org)
- East Hawaii: Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center at Landlord Tenant Eviction Mediation Program – Ku’ikahi Mediation Center (hawaiimediation.org)
- West Hawaii: West Hawai‘i Mediation Center at Rapid Response Landlord Tenant Mediation – West Hawai’i Mediation Center (whmediation.org)
- Maui County: Maui Mediation Services at Maui Mediation Services.
- Kauai County: Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. Mediation Program at (808) 245-4077 x229 or x237 or email@example.com
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA2) program
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act that was enacted on March 11, 2021 provides Hawaii with an additional $152 million for rent and utility assistance. The ERA2 program is also to be administered by the counties.
This funding is still pending issuance by U.S. Treasury.