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Buyout program for 2018 Kilauea eruption victims brings hope

Courtesy Hawaii County Civil Defense

HONOLULU — As Kilauea volcano continues to erupt at its summit, victims of the 2018 eruption are getting the chance to rebuild.

A county buyout program for people who lost their homes during the massive eruption three years ago is allowing people to claim the 2017 value of their property up to $230,000.

The current eruption is not in an area with homes.

The application process for those with destroyed primary residences ended in July. But anyone who has not yet applied can still do so beginning in November. That’s when the program also opens for secondary residences and long-term rentals.

“I still mourn all of the things that I lost because they’re just irreplaceable,” Kathy Urso told Hawaii News Now.

Urso lost nearly all of her belongings in the eruption that destroyed more than 700 homes and displaced thousands of residents in the Puna area.

Urso is one of about 300 homeowners who have applied for the program. Officials said 79% of eligible owners expressed interest.

“I think the assistance that we’re offering, there’s a real need for it out there in our communities,” said Douglas Le, Hawaiʻi County disaster recovery officer.

Le said there's about $107 million in federal funding provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — the largest the county has ever received.

Applications for the Voluntary Housing Buyout Program are available on this website.

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