By Hawaii Tribune Herald| Friday, April 9, 2021, 12:05 a.m.
Millions of dollars in federal assistance to households behind on rent and electric bills will be available through the Hawaii County Emergency Rental Assistance Program starting Monday.
Disconnections for nonpayment and collections activities have been suspended for more than a year as part of Hawaiian Electric’s effort to help households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium is set to end on May 31.
The County of Hawaii is leveraging millions in federal funds for rent and utility assistance. The program will provide rent and utility grants to an estimated 3,400 qualifying households for up to 12 months. It is administered by Hawaii Community Lending through six nonprofit partners.
To qualify, renters must be Hawaii Island residents at least 18 years old with lost income due to COVID-19. Renters must be earning at or below 80% of annual median income for the number of members in their household. Priority will be given to households at or below 50% of annual median income with household members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days from the date of application.
To apply, contact any of the following partners starting Monday:
• Hawaii First Federal Credit Union: www.hawaiifirstfcu.com, email@example.com, 933-6600.
• Neighborhood Place of Puna: www.neighborhoodplace.org, ERAP@neighborhoodplace.org, 965-5550.
• Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island: www.habitathawaiiisland.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 843-0071.
• The Salvation Army: www.hawaii.salvationarmy.org, hilo.ERAP@usw.salvationarmy.org, 935-1277.
• Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council: www.hceoc.net, ERAP@hceoc.net, 932-2714.
While the end of the moratorium won’t trigger immediate disconnections, they cannot be suspended indefinitely.
Customers having difficulty paying their bill are urged to apply for the federally funded rent and utility assistance while it is available.
For additional assistance, customers should submit a payment arrangement request to ensure uninterrupted service.
Go to hawaiianelectric.com/paymentarrangement to submit a request.
About 13% of the residential customers who are past due by more than 30 days are currently on a payment arrangement.
Hawaiian Electric is reaching out to residential and business customers who have fallen furthest behind. Residential and smaller commercial customers with a past due balance are being offered deferred and 4-, 8- or 12-month payment arrangement options (no interest or late fees).
For the latest information on available financial assistance, go to hawaiianelectric.com/COVID19.