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Mediation centers brace for onslaught of evictions with Hawaii’s moratorium set to end

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:30 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii mediation centers are bracing for the end of Hawaii’s eviction ban this Friday even though the federal government announced an extension.

The Mediation Center of the Pacific on Young Street in Honolulu is preparing for an onslaught of eviction notices and mediation sessions. The goal is to find agreements between landlords and tenants and keep the courts from being overwhelmed.

Executive Director Tracey Wiltgen said her “triage center” consists of folders labeled according to their priority level.

“These are four months or more behind. These tenants are two months or more behind,” she said.

With an estimated 10,000 households behind on rent, the center is expecting at least 1,000 eviction notices to drop after the eviction moratorium is lifted Friday night.

“This is an emergency. We are trying to get people into mediation quickly to help them negotiate and reach agreements to give the landlord the money that they are owed and keep the tenant in their unit,” said Wiltgen.

A new law sets up a mediation process. Most mediation sessions are on Zoom, but clients can come in to use the technology.

The Mediation Center of the Pacific has a special section on its website that will go live Aug. 7.

“Landlords are going to have to submit the notice and information of the eviction online,” said Katie Ranney, program development director.

“Any tenant that has received a notice we have the phone number set up,” she added.

And a new confusing development, the federal government announced the eviction ban was extended to Oct. 3 in areas with significant threats from the delta variant.

“Right now we are hearing that it’s not going to impact Hawaii and the governor is not extending Hawaii’s moratorium so from our perspective we are preparing and we will be ready,” said Wiltgen.

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele clarified that even if Hawaii’s eviction moratorium ends Friday, landlords cannot evict tenants because Hawaii falls under the CDC’s new order.

It says evictions are on hold in areas of “high or substantial transmission.”

The CDC order runs through Oct. 3.

Hawaii News Now has asked Gov. David Ige for clarification and is waiting to hear back.

For more information, go to www.MediateHawaii.org or call the landlord tenant line at 808-807-0080.

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