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Hawaiian Homes Commission approves COVID-19 relief options
May 7, 2020

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KAPOLEI - The Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC) on April 21 approved two actions that will provide Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) Applicant Waiting List beneficiaries, as well as lessees, licensees and permittees on land managed by the department, relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHC approved the establishment of the DHHL COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program will provide eligible Native Hawaiian beneficiaries who are on the department's Applicant Waiting List, as of Dec. 31, 2018, with rental assistance using Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant funds.

These funds were made available in accordance with the Native Hawaiian Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act and other federal laws, including Public Law 115-141 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The Consolidated Appropriations Act allows NHHBG funds to be used to provide rental assistance to eligible Native Hawaiian families both on and off Hawaiian Home Lands.

Under the established program, eligible beneficiaries who have experienced a loss of income or job as a result of COVID-19 may qualify for assistance for the payment of their security deposit and/or rent on a month-to-month basis for up to six months.

DHHL will now finalize the details of the program's implementation. A formal announcement will follow, with an anticipated launch this month.

"I am pleased that the commission approved the opportunity for rental relief to DHHL applicants on the Waiting List as the department continues to prepare 1,300 lots statewide that are still on schedule to be produced over the next five years," said HHC Chairman William J. Aila Jr. "I want all of our beneficiaries to know that they are on our minds daily, and collectively we are working diligently to provide support."

HHC also approved an action to accept rental relief requests from qualified tenants on land managed by the department. The approval includes the delegatory authorization of the chairman to review, approve and authorize the requests on a case-by-case basis.

Rental relief will act as a deferral of payments to qualified requestors and will cover a period of six months from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2020. An amortized interest rate of no less than 4 percent will be applied against the rent relief period balance.

"As economic challenges continue to face our community, the department hears the need for support, including those who pay rent for general leases, licenses and permits on land management by DHHL. The revenues developed on the homelands directly affect our ability to build more homesteads," said Ail?. "The option for rental relief through this commission action will allow the department a broader approach to guiding our future planning through these uncertain times."

Those interested in learning more about rental relief for general lessees, licensees and permittees, including qualifications, should visit dhhl.hawaii.gov/covid-19/lmd or call (808) 620-9500.

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