Maui News

Emergency Financial Assistance Available for Native Hawaiian Renters on DHHL Waiting List

February 8, 2021, 9:43 AM HST
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The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement is partnering with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to administer financial assistance to native Hawaiian renters on the DHHL waiting list who are having difficulties meeting housing expenses in Hawaiʻi as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Beginning Feb. 8, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) will begin accepting applications for the DHHL Rent Relief Program, which is funded by the US Department of the Treasury.  DHHL has received $2.4 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to implement this relief program.

The program will provide eligible participants with payments for rent, back rent, security deposits, utilities, home energy costs and other expenses related to housing incurred during the pandemic. 

“Many native Hawaiian families have been severely impacted by this pandemic, and CNHA is honored to work with DHHL in providing this much-needed assistance to those in our communities,” said CNHA President & CEO Kūhio Lewis. “CNHA will work directly with applicants who meet the requirements to receive relief in this program.”

Currently, there are about 28,000 people on the DHHL waiting list, of which CNHA estimates nearly 20 percent may qualify for this emergency rental assistance.

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Funds from the program can be used to cover up to 12 months of rent and utilities, including back rent dating to March 13, 2020. To qualify for this assistance, applicants are required to:

  • Be on the DHHL Applicant waiting list OR be an Undivided Interest Lessee in the State of Hawaiʻi
  • Rent housing in the State of Hawaiʻi
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Prove income loss due to unemployment or loss of work for more than 90 days, a reduction in household income or homelessness/housing instability
  • Meet income qualification — less than 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI). The amount differs by county.
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Applicants also will be required to provide documentation of their residency, as well as proof of hardship and income statements. Payments will be made directly to vendors owed money. More information and application forms can be found online at www.hawaiiancouncil.org/dhhl.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission first approved a pilot program for rental assistance in May 2020 utilizing funds from the National Hawaiian Housing Block Grant. The program was extended in August 2020.

“As we navigate through a new year, we want beneficiaries to know that the Department continues to work hard to meet the responsibilities it has to the trust but also to provide relief to those who have suffered significant hardship as a result of these turbulent times,” said Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr.

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