Column: Pain grows as CARES Act funds sit idle

Column: Pain grows as CARES Act funds sit idle

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The recent news that our city and state agencies are unable to get federal money out the door to help people with things such as electrical bills and rent is simply maddening. By some accounts, nearly $900 million is still waiting to be spent before Dec. 31 and all signs are that the state appears unable or unwilling to spend it.

Our elected leaders tell us that the money will not go back to the federal government, but instead will be poured into our unemployment insurance trust fund. This makes no sense to us at St. Elizabeth’s in Kalihi where the despair of struggling families is visible daily.

For the last 10-plus years, one of the services that St Elizabeth’s provides is small rent and electrical help to those in need. Every Tuesday, people line up and, depending on what we have received in donations, walk away with a check for $25, $50 and sometimes $200. Even in good times, the need is endless. The pandemic has pushed that need to the extreme: thousands have lost jobs, have not yet received unemployment compensation, and are at the mercy of landlords who, despite mandates to the contrary, issue eviction notices.

While I understand the need to ensure that monies are properly spent, I don’t understand why more efforts aren’t being made to infuse those monies into places, like our church, that have a long history of handling such fiduciary duties responsibly and quickly.

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