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Hawaiʻi Island pandemic rent and utility relief program winds down


Hawaiʻi County began winding down its Emergency Rental Assistance Program on Tuesday.

The program has distributed nearly $23 million to 7,800 residents to help pay their rent and utility bills since it started last year.

“Ensuring our local families were able to remain in their homes with the lights on through the Pandemic and beyond was and is an absolute priority of ours, and we were honored to have helped almost 8,000 families do just that,” Mayor Mitch Roth said in a statement.

Back in August, the program stopped accepting new applications as it processed received applications that weren’t yet approved for financial assistance.

The program still has federal funds left but will be distributing them to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

The county is encouraging renters to develop sustainable plans for paying bills without ERAP assistance "as the island transitions to post-pandemic times."

For those still struggling, a new rent and utility assistance program is expected to launch early next year. County officials say it will include workforce development programs, community services and resources, and the development of a sustainable housing plan.

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