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Oahu rent relief program to accept more applications, but you’ll have to act fast

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 3:07 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu residents who need help covering their bills will have another opportunity to sign up for the city’s rent and utility assistance program.

On Monday, 10,000 new applications will be accepted. The online portal opens at 6 p.m. Because of high demand, it’s not expected to be open long.

“My advice June 7th ― set an alarm,” said Caitlin Sabado, an intake specialist who is helping UNITE HERE! Local 5 union members. She added that you should also gather all the required documents now.

“If you go to the One Oahu page everything that’s needed is there,” said Sabado. “I recommend to actually upload your documents ahead of time. On your device or on your computer.”

The city will open the portal for the relief program Monday at OneOahu.org.

Applicants can receive up to $2,000 a month for rent that’s paid directly to the landlord and another $500 a month for utilities.

“To qualify you must be at 50% of the area median income or below. That’s around $63,000 in annual income for a family of four,” said Office of Economic Revitalization Executive Director Amy Asselbaye.

As of Wednesday, the program has processed more than 2,000 applications and distributed $15.3 million in funding.

City and County of Honolulu

Since launching in April, the program has accepted a total of 12,000 applications.

Of those, more 6,000 have been denied. Officials say in many cases the agency received multiple applications from the same household. Others simply didn’t qualify.

“Only one person from each household should apply,” said Asselbaye. “And make sure for every application that you use a unique email address.”

Nearly 800 more applications weren’t processed because of suspected fraud or because the applicant never responded.

As of Wednesday, the city says it had finished processed more than 2,000 applications and distributed $15.3 million in funding.

For comparison, the 2020 household relief program only managed to disburse about $2 million in its first 3 months.

“It’s a lot quicker, the process, than it was last year,” Sabado said.

Once your application is in, she says make sure you’re checking your email every day.

“We get a lot of times where people don’t check their email on a daily basis so it’s very, very hard to get a hold of them,” Sabado says.

If you don’t get your application in this time there will be another opportunity next month.

“If folks have issues with either technology or language issues if they can call our city help line at 768-CITY,” said Asselbaye.

“Then we can refer you to a community based non-profit partners who can literally hold your hand to walk you through that application. Especially if you don’t have internet access. Or the language issue is really a problem in terms of submitting a complete application.

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