LIHU‘E — The County Housing Agency has been given the OK by the County Council to start up what hopes to be a $22-million, federally-funded rental assistance program.
Adam Roversi, CHA director, said this program has the ability to “effectively wipe out” missed rental payments on the island which, on the high end, the county is estimating to be around $21 million.
These funds can be used to cover rental and utility costs going back to March 2020 for those affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, Roversi said. The program is not extended to mortgagees.
Applications for tenants are available yet, but the county has sent out a request for proposals for a third-party, nonprofit to administer the program. Nonprofits have until March 10 to submit a proposal. Roversi hopes to have a contract signed by the end of March and get direct payments to landlords by April.
In cases where landlords or homeowners would not accept the direct payments, Roversi suggested working with tenants to still be eligible for the program.
The county’s program will be similar to that the state’s $100-million, rental-assistance program that was announced last September in partnership with Catholic Charities Hawai‘i and Aloha United Way.
Roversi expressed some hesitance in the county choosing more than one nonprofit to administer the program because of the difficulties the state had in making sure there was no duplication of benefits to applicants.
While similar, the county plan will be different in that there will not be a cap on rental payments, and tenants will need to be at or below 80% area median income in the 2020 tax year. For a family of four, that’s an income limit of $77,700, and $54,400 for a single person, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Income Limits Documentation System for 2020.
Applicants will need to be able to document a reduction in income as a result of the pandemic.
These funds are part of the second round of coronavirus relief. The state got about $200 million, with Kaua‘i tentatively being allocated $22 million, Roversi said, in an initial allocation of $10 million and “subsequent distributions on how fast we can get the money out on Kaua‘i.”
This program can also cover back and current payments on utilities to Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and the county Department of Water.
KIUC, Roversi said, had delinquent payments of about $1 million, while DOW is down about $750,000.
The county has an end-of-September deadline to utilize these funds.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.