County agency wants to provide more help with housing

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i County Housing Agency wants to help more low-income residents with rental assistance this year, Housing Director Eugene Jimenez told the County Council at a budget meeting Tuesday.

Jimenez said the agency will need $19.95 million to operate and provide help to Kaua‘i’s families in fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1. But only 4 percent, or $793,743, comes from the county general fund. The remainder comes from federal government housing grants and other sources, including income from Kalepa and Pa‘anau affordable housing projects.

“Our mission statement is to provide greater opportunities for Kaua‘i’s citizens to choose and secure affordable, safe, decent and sanitary housing, and to live and work in neighborhoods and communities that can accommodate the needs and desires of all households and individuals,” Jimenez said.

Housing is split between a Rental Assistance Division and a Housing and Community Development Division, Jimenez said.

The agency currently provides subsidies and assistance to approximately 700 low-income families through about $500,000 a month in Section 8 rental assistance vouchers. Those 700 families include 80 new participating families accepted by the program in the past year.

Jimenez said his agency’s goal is to bring another 80 to 100 people into the program this year.

The turnaround period for families to receive assistance was cut nearly in half last year — from 60 days to 30-40 days — after new software and procedures were implemented, he said.

“The primary goal for the program is to get people off Section 8 and into permanent housing,” Jimenez added.

The agency oversees the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, in which volunteer Section 8 clients are counseled to help achieve independence from government assistance, he said. In addition, Section 8 has a home ownership program.

“Section 8 participants may use their rental assistance towards mortgage assistance, provided they qualify for home ownership,” Jimenez said.

Working with federal housing programs, the county agency helped 14 homeless veterans use vouchers to secure housing.

Of 110 Assisted Family Self-Sufficiency Program participants, 61 families increased their annual incomes by an average of approximately $4,000 per year, eight families transitioned into non-subsidized housing, and four families purchased homes using the Section 8 Homeownership Program.

Through its Housing and Community Development Division, he said, the agency administers an array of programs, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, residential rehabilitation loan program, home-buyer loan program, fair housing workshops, affordable housing development and planning, and neighborhood stabilization programs.

The total funding for housing programs in FY 2013 is forecast at $16.86 million, a slight increase from the current fiscal year’s program funding of $16.26 million, according to Jimenez

Salaries and benefits in FY 2013 are budgeted at $2.65 million. Other expenses are budgeted at $432,575.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@


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