LIHU‘E — A mortgage assistance program through Hawai‘i Community Lending has opened up for Kaua‘i residents.
The Homeowner Assistance Fund, also operating in partnership with Hawai‘i Island, has about $5 million to assist qualified homeowners.
This pilot program will give an estimated 200 homeowners between both islands grants to bring their mortgage up-to-date or reduce monthly payments.
“For nearly six months, our county’s rental and utility assistance program has been helping our renters and landlords affected by the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a release. “Through this new and highly anticipated mortgage assistance program, we are excited that homeowners will finally be offered some much-needed relief as well.”
Priority will be given to low- and moderate- income homeowners and those earning below 100% of the area median income as well as to “socially disadvantaged” borrowers, including Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic populations and homeowners with English as a second language, according to HCL.
To be eligible, homeowners must earn less than 150% of the area’s median income. On Kaua‘i, that’s a maximum annual household income of $107,000 for a single person and $152,850 for a family of four.
The program is funded by the federal government, county Housing Agency Director Adam Roveri said.
The U.S. Congress established the fund in the Department of the Treasury with the purpose of mitigating financial hardships associated with the pandemic. The fund will provide homeowners with grants to prevent mortgage delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures, a release stated.
Kaua‘i contributed about $1.26 million in federal funds, and Hawai‘i Island contributed about $3.595 million, HCL Executive Director Jeff Gilbreath said.
To apply for the grants, homeowners will be required to complete an intake application and pre-screening questionnaire to enroll with a Financial Opportunity Center run by Hawaiian Community Assets, a HUD-approved housing counseling agency nonprofit.
The program, which began accepting applications on Monday, will run until all funds are spent, but it’s expected about 50 homeowners on Kaua‘i and 150 on Hawai‘i Island will be selected, however, the program will also offer additional counseling and assistance.
“An estimated 350 homeowners will receive HUD housing counseling – 100 on Kaua‘i and 250 on Hawai‘i Island,” Gilbreath said in an email. “Additional homeowners will be served with HAF grants and (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) housing counseling after the pilot funds are expended.”
This pilot program, Gilbreath said, will “dovetail” into the main program that will allow additional homeowners to be served.
“We project at least 100 total Kaua‘i homeowners will receive financial assistance which includes the pilot and main program plus HCL will be providing additional emergency loans,” Gilbreath said. “HUD housing counseling will be available to more homeowners than the financial assistance available which will help them get assessed for existing loss mitigation options required of mortgage servicers by the federal government.”
The pilot is set to run through next October, with a standard program “potentially” running until October 2026, Roversi said.
Properties, exclusive to single-family homes or condos, must be located on Hawai‘i or Kaua‘i islands, be the primary residence of the homeowner. Only first mortgages will be accepted, with an originating date prior to Jan. 21, 2020.
Eligible homeowners must have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, have less than $25,000 in assets, and submit relevant documents.
More information can be found at HawaiianCommunity.net.