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State eviction moratorium extended through October

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige said he plans to extend of the state’s moratorium on evictions through the end of October.

Ige made the announcement during Thursday’s Community Connection Facebook Live in discussion about the state’s new rental-assistance program. Ige was joined by Denise Iseri-Matsubara, executive director of the state Housing, Finance and Development Corporation.

Ige has continued the moratorium since February through the end of September.

Last week, the state launched the Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program, which offered $100 million in rental and mortgage support to unemployed or underemployed residents using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money.

The program is a joint effort between the state, Aloha United Way and Catholic Charities of Hawai‘i, and provides eligible renters with up to $1,500 per month on Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i Island, and up to $2,000 per month on O‘ahu.

The first phase, amounting to $50 million, has already received over 8,000 applications and over 100,000 hits to the HIHousingHelp website, Iseri-Matsubara reported. The program is currently set up to provide assistance for rent payments between Aug. 1 and Dec. 28.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook,” Iseri-Matsubara said. Catholic Charities has been manually accepting applications and has begun to process payments already.

The second phase of the program relates to mortgage support from March 1 to the end of July. Iseri-Matsubara said this phase should open before the end of September with the remaining $50 million.

“We’ve heard from many that being able to provide rent and mortgage support is so important,” Ige said.

To be eligible, tenants must be full-time Hawai‘i residents who are at or below their county’s area median income. On Kaua‘i, for a single person, that’s up to $68,000, and for a family of four it’s $97,100, as defined by federal Department of Housing and Urban Development 2020 income limits.

Tenants need to apply, and payments will be made directly to landlords.

Households that receive federal or state rent subsidies are not eligible.

Residents can apply for state and county assistance, Ige said, and he recommended that applicants disclose assistance streams in applications, and to ensure that funds do not exceed rental rates.

“If you provide that information, we can make that assessment,” Ige said.

In July, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that one in five renters were behind on rent nationally. The burden on Black and brown renters with children, the bureau reported, was higher, at one in four renters.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), along with 30 other senators, called on President Donald Trump to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to enact legislation that provides the emergency assistance and protections renters need to stay in their homes.

“Millions of children and youth are at risk of being evicted from their homes due to the Trump administration’s refusal to support critical rental-assistance and relief measures to protect their health and well-being during this pandemic,” a press release said.

In the letter to Trump, senators wrote that millions of households are now choosing between paying rent and other necessities, like food and medicine.

“Given recent spikes in COVID-19 caseloads and an economic crisis that continues to deepen, we urge you to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to enact legislation that provides the emergency assistance renters need to stay in their homes,” the senators wrote on Thursday.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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