Local non-profit challenged by government shutdown

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) helps about 17,000 people a year. That's how many could potentially be affected if the government shutdown persists.

Gwen DeLuca, a wife and mother of five, found help and hope at HCAP's Kalihi-Palama office.

"They helped me with resources, food, sent me to school, linked me to other outreach that can help me," she said.

The non-profit agency assists Oahu's needy with a range of services through offices in Kalihi, Palolo, Waianae, Kahaluu and Aiea.

"There's a lot of people that are struggling out there. People cannot afford the homes here, even for rental," said Aldora Kahele of HCAP's Kalihi-Palama District Council.

The agency counts on a $1.7 million federal grant to pay its bills.

"The block grant funding is the glue that holds our whole agency together," HCAP finance director Mike Hane said.

He said the federal shutdown presents a huge hurdle..

"The new grant period started on Oct. 1. So the funds for the current grant period are not accessible," he said.

The money may be locked up, but the needs don't stop.

"We try to get them to come in and take advantage of our high school diploma programs. We help them look for work. We help them with their resumes," HCAP program manager Ace Tufu said.

Hane said the agency is now running on reserve funds. If they are exhausted HCAP may need to temporarily halt some programs.

"It will be a tough choice," Hane said. "There are no good choices in that type of situation but we will just have to make the best of it at that point."

DeLuca said HCAP helped her finish high school.

"Here I am, moving on to go to college now," she said.

HCAP also runs Oahu's Head Start program. Some of the money from the block grant helps cover those operating costs, so a prolonged shutdown would hurt a lot of people who rely on the agency daily.

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