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City to close rent, utility relief application window at end of June

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City officials are urging Oʻahu residents who have not received rent or utility assistance to file applications before the end of the month.

The city's Rent and Utility Relief Program began in April 2021. It has helped more than 12,000 families affected by the pandemic, approving more than $163 million in federal relief.

But as federal pandemic relief funds dwindle, the city is beginning to scale back the program.

Up until now, qualified households could receive up to $2,500 a month for rent, utility, and other essential expenses. Applicants could also get their past due bills covered — going as far back as 2020.

But now, there are some changes.

"Our priority is new applicants," said Amy Asselbaye, director of the city's Office of Economic Revitalization. "These new applicants would be capped at the past due or utility bills, and then allowed up to three months of future rent relief — as long as that total, including arrears, is less than 18 months.

"For renters who are already in the rent and utility relief program, meaning they have received funding in the past, they can submit an application to requalify for past due rent or utility bills, and up to three more months of support for rent," she said.

Asselbaye tells HPR that roughly $30 million in federal aid remains for the program, and relief is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Although the city is scaling back the program, Asselbaye says it will continue to fund qualified households to the best of its abilities. She tells HPR there is still a great need within the community for aid.

The deadline to apply for relief is 4: 30 p.m. on June 30. New applicants can apply at OneOahu.org/RentHelp. Those who are reapplying need to contact the organization (Catholic Charities or Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement) that funded their application in the past.

Office of Economic Revitalization, City and County of Honolulu

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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