Hawaii island group distributes $7.5M in housing aid, with more on the way

Hawaii island group distributes $7.5M in housing aid, with more on the way

A hui of Hawaii island organizations already has distributed all of its $7.5 million in federal funds to pay rent and mortgages for 1,322 households during the COVID-19 economic and health crisis, but the need is even greater.

Another 1,516 applications are still pending approval.

To help respond to the volume of renters and homeowners who continue to need help on Hawaii island, county officials on Friday issued an additional $1 million in federal funds to the hui and plan to provide $1.4 million more this week, according to Sharon Hirota, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim.

The additional money will help cover rent and mortgage payments to “as many as we could who were still in the pipeline” when applications closed Nov. 5, Hirota said.

The success in distributing the available funds across Hawaii island comes as officials on Oahu worry about spending all of the state’s CARES Act funds by the end of December, when any uncommitted federal money would have to be returned.

On Hawaii island, “We cannot leave money on the table,” said Brandee Menino, chairwoman of Bridging the Gap, which is working with neighbor island agencies to distribute rent and mortgage relief CARES Act funds. “We don’t want to give any of it back to the state or to the feds.”

In total the group should receive $10.9 million in federal funds, but each organization is eligible to use 15% for staff and operational costs to run the program.…

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