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Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance Program has help available

WAIMEA — Just a handful of people took advantage of the in-person assistance for the 2021 Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance Program, Wednesday at the Waimea Neighborhood Center.

“This is our first in-person appearance on the Westside,” said Bonnie Howard, the program manager from the Kaua‘i Government Employees Federal Credit Union. “We didn’t know what to expect. But we’re also doing an evening session at the Dow Agriscience for appointments being set up by G and R for the Kaumakani, Makaweli, and Pakala camps.”

The 2021 Coronavirus Rental and Utility program, administered by KGEFCU, is designed to support individuals and families to cover essential costs of living expenses during the time the economy recovers from the effects of the global pandemic.

Some of the eligible expenses qualifying for aid include rental arrears, or back rents, future rent, and utilities unpaid for the period between March 2020 through December 2021. This program does not provide mortgage assistance.

To qualify for rent and utility assistance, applicants must meet the following criteria, including being a Kaua‘i resident at least 18 years old, being a renter, and having lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or experienced significantly increased costs or other financial hardship, directly or indirectly related to the outbreak. They must also have an annual gross household income at, or below 80 percent of the area median income (table provided at www.KauaiRentHelp.com).

“We want households who think they are eligible to come out,” Howard said. “We have a lot of help that covers the period ending at the end of this year. If we’re unable to get the help out, we must give it back to the government.”

Since the program launched on May 10, the KGEFCU team has hosted its first in-person assistance program on May 11. To date, the program has taken in 751 applications covering about $2 million in back rent, and more than $300,000 in unpaid utilities.

Eligible applicants may receive up to $4,500 per month for rent, and no ceiling per month for qualifying utilities.

“This is for anyone who is renting and has been impacted by the pandemic,” Howard said. “Our intake team has been hand-picked for their professionalism and compassion. They can help you, and we can probably work something out.”

Information is required from both tenants and landlords for an application to be completed and qualify for the program, and cooperation from both parties will help the process.

A full program information and additional in-person locations are available at www.KauaiRentHelp.com/home. The website also lists the required documents and forms under the “Documents” section. Additionally, the KGEFCU hosted a webinar on the program on April 21 where more than 130 residents were in attendance. Questions and feedback from this community have been consolidated and the webinar is available for viewing on the website.

People without Internet access, or a computer, are encouraged to visit the satellite program locations, or to reach out to their local library for computer availability.

Individuals needing an auxiliary aid or service, or other accomodations due to a disability should contact KGEFCU at rent@kgefcu.org as quickly as possible to allow adequate time to fulfill the request. “ADA” should be included in the subject lne of the email.

Howard said the intake team will be at the KGEFCU Kilauea Branch in the Ahuimanu Shopping Center, next Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On May 27, the intake team will be at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center from 5 to 7 p.m. when Pacific Islanders are encouraged to attend because translators will be available to help with the following languages including Yapese, Marshallese, Pohnpeian, Kosraean, and more.

On May 29, the intake team will be at the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Source: The Garden Island

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