Hawaiʻi County on Nov. 1 began winding down its Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by Big Island nonprofits.
As the County waits for additional federal dollars, there is a limited amount of funds available for rent and utility assistance. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program administrator stopped accepting new applications in August as applications for assistance that had been received but not yet approved were processed.
All financial assistance approved moving forward will be prioritized, and funds will be disbursed to households facing eviction, a utility shutoff or who have an unemployed adult and are at risk of homelessness. Assistance will be paid out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
All applicants will be directed to available job opportunities, resources and services, including landlord-tenant mediation, legal services and other financial assistance programs.
The County is working to develop a new rent and utility assistance program that will include connectivity to housing stability services such as workforce development programs, financial empowerment services, community services and resources and the development of a sustainable housing plan. The new program is anticipated to be available in early 2023.
“Ensuring our local families were able to remain in their homes with the lights on through the pandemic and beyond was and is an absolute priority of ours, and we were honored to have helped almost 8,000 families do just that,” Mayor Mitch Roth said in a press release.
Since its launch in early 2021, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has disbursed nearly $23 million in rent and utility assistance, helping prevent eviction, utility shutoffs and homelessness for more than 7,800 Big Island families.
As the island transitions to post-pandemic times, renters around Hawai’i Island are encouraged to develop sustainable plans for paying rent and utilities without emergency assistance. Residents who need help transitioning away from emergency benefits are encouraged to contact the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Coordination Center for referrals to resources and services that can help. Financial counselors are also available at County Financial Empowerment Centers.
Additional available services and job openings can be found on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program website or by calling or texting the Coordination Center at