The state is sitting on $90M for housing aid and time is running out to distribute it

Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 4:43 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A program to help struggling families stay in their homes is sitting on more than 90% of the $100 million it’s supposed to distribute.

The Ige administration announced the program in early September. Eligible applicants can get up to $2,000 a month through the end of the year ― paid directly to their landlord.

But of the 19,591 people who have applied, only about 2,810 applications are in process.

Meanwhile, just $8.5 million has actually been paid out. Another $6.19 million in payments is pending.

Hawaii News Now spent weeks trying to get an interview with the agency in charge of the program but has repeatedly been denied.

However, HNN did obtain a three-page letter to the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

In it, the director of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation admitted “most of the challenges (with the program) involve capacity and technology.”

She said delays were also attributed to the state deciding to double-check the work of non-profit agencies reviewing the applications and because some applications were “incomplete” or had “incorrect information.”

The letter went on to say they’ve since backed off on oversight of the agencies.

David Moskowitz was one of the first to apply for the state’s Rent Relief and Mortgage Assistance program after losing his job in the hospitality industry.

Nearly two months have gone by and he’s still waiting for a response.

“I’ve heard nothing, zero, very frustrating,” Moskowitz said. “We will be out of money by Feb. 1.”

The 71-year-old is beginning to wonder if he’ll get help at all.

The state has about two months to dole out the remaining $90 million. Anything left over at the end of the year will be transferred into the state’s unemployment fund.

“There’s no way they can hand this money out,” said Moskowitz. “You do the math, the time it takes to do all the paperwork per form.”

House lawmakers have scheduled a hearing Tuesday for an update on the program.

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