Effort afoot to revive eviction prevention aid, reverse 'dumb' cut

Effort afoot to revive eviction prevention aid, reverse 'dumb' cut

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An eviction prevention program that had helped scores of families avert homelessness has ground to a halt after losing its state funding.

Now there's an effort underway to get the Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative up and running again.

The program provided clients up to three months in rental assistance. To be eligible, applicants had to prove that after the help, they'd be sustainable.

Attorney David Chee says it's the first program in the last 20 years that effectively prevented homelessness.

"There are multiple programs out there. None of them have been able to move quickly enough to stop people from being evicted," Chee said.

State Sen. Josh Green contends politics sunk the initiative — even after it was proven to work.

He's pushing to get the same one-time rental assistance program that the state cut earlier this year reinstated.

"Let me be blunt. It was a dumb move not to leave that safety valve to keep families from becoming homeless," said Green, chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee.

Ige administration officials declined to say whether they support bringing back the program, but a spokesperson did say the governor and the state Department of Human Services look forward to reviewing the proposal.

The initiative was around for just a year.

But in that short amount of time the program, managed by Aloha United Way, helped eviction rates on Oahu drop a staggering 25 percent.

Statewide, the initiative prevented 1,124 evictions, helping thousands of people stay in their homes.

"The AUW program, when it was available, was able to move very, very quickly and get people the money they needed so they could stay in their homes," Chee said.

Despite that success, the state chose not to renew funding and instead shifted money to other housing initiatives.

Over the past three months  Aloha United Way said it has received 1,173 requests for rental assistance.

But without its state funding Chee says the number of people who've been helped has dropped to almost nothing.

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