No rental aid cut for low-income Hawaii families - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

No rental aid cut for low-income Hawaii families

Charles Vesy Charles Vesy
Pamela Witty-Oakland Pamela Witty-Oakland
Alvin Wong Alvin Wong
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Low-income families who feared they would lose their rental assistance are no longer in danger. Despite a warning letter sent two months ago, federal budget cuts won't impact rent checks received by Section 8 participants, according to city officials.

Charles Vesy, 63, is disabled and suffers from mental health issues. He lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Makiki. He relies on Section 8 to pay most of his rent, but he is worried about becoming homeless again after the city sent him a letter which indicated his assistance could be cut due to the federal budget dispute.

"If I got the letter from them and then the lady said you'll have 30 days to find another place, and to find the place I found took me over a year," said Vesy.

More than 3,500 other low-income tenants also received the warning, but now everyone will be spared.

"It's absolutely wonderful news that we're going to be able to support the program as is in the community," said Pamela Witty-Oakland, director of the Department of Community Services. "That's the bottom line. No interruption. The checks will be in the mail. Everybody should be secure and feel comfortable."

"It's the best thing I've heard in many, many years if this is true," said Vesy.

Witty-Oakland said since the federal cuts weren't as deep as originally projected, the city should be able to make ends meet in the current budget cycle with cost-saving measures.

"Each month we have so many vouchers that are turned in through attrition so each one of those calculates into a savings. There are other opportunities where family members their income rises so the amount of their vouchers gets adjusted," explained Witty-Oakland.

But that also means the 561 people who've been on the waiting list for years are out of luck. Some landlords also believe they're caught in the middle. The Department of Housing and Urban Development ordered Keola Hoonanea to cancel a planned 10% rent hike due to federal budget issues.

"We've got plumbing that's about 50 years old. Same thing with electrical lines, and our elevator is just about near the end of its service life," said Alvin Wong, a member of Keola Hoonanea's board of directors.

The state also offers Section 8 assistance. The head of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority said that there is enough funding in reserve to cover the roughly 2,000 recipients for nearly a year.


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