COUNCIL’S 3 MINUTES
By: Yuki Lei Sugimura
Published in the Maui News September 12, 2020
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we have all faced unforeseen changes and challenges but, with the Eviction Moratorium slated to end on Sept. 30, our community is on the verge of another unwelcome shift that may cause people to lose their homes.
For help finding resources caused by loss of income due to the pandemic, the Aloha United Way 211 Helpline is a great place to start.
211 is Hawai’i’s only statewide hotline partnering with the Department of Health to connect those in need with applicable resources, including assistance for businesses, childcare, food, shelter, landlord/tenant support, mortgages and other COVID-19 related issues.
Simply dial 211 from any phone and you will be connected to a live operator who will plug in your zip code and provide resources nearby.
If you need rental assistance, here are a few local organizations that can help:
• Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. — Maui Office: 249-2970; Hana Office: 248-8282; Lana’i Office: 565-6665; Moloka’i Office: 553-3216
• Catholic Charities Hawai’i, Maui — 873-4673
• Family Life Center — 877-0880
There is still so much uncertainty surrounding many of our lives and navigating resources can feel discouraging. If you need further help identifying resources here in Maui County, contact Maui United Way at 244-8787.
Gov. Ige’s moratorium prevents any eviction from a residential dwelling for failure to pay rent. However, if the governor does not extend the moratorium past September, landlords can provide a 5 business day notice for non-payment of rent and then start the eviction process.
Additionally, the moratorium still leaves tenants responsible for their accrued back rent, which may be impossible for some to immediately acquire or recover from the long-lasting financial impacts of.
Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide ban on evictions through Dec. 31, the order requires renters facing eviction to meet all specific requirements and to print and sign an affidavit declaring their eligibility.
On Sept. 8, at the state level, Gov. Ige recently announced that a portion of Hawai’i’s CARES Act funding will be used to the launch of the State of Hawai’i Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program.
The program is administered by Catholic Charities Hawai’i and Aloha United Way to provide renters at risk of eviction with assistance making monthly rent payments and financial counseling.
The housing assistance can be made in lump sum amounts for Aug. 1-Dec. 28 in direct payments to landlords.
More information about the Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program, is available at www.hihousinghelp.com.
On the other side of this issue, some property managers and landlords are struggling with financial obligations that are equally daunting.
Most people want to pay their rent, but the tough reality is that they are having to decide between paying to keep the lights on, purchasing prescriptions, putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their heads.
Thankfully, there are various resources that residents can turn to.
It is imperative that our community take action to utilize the allocated funds, which are intended to play a crucial role in providing relief to our residents, businesses and the community at large.
On the other hand, if you have the means, please consider donating or volunteering your time to a local nonprofit where even a small donation can go a long way during these difficult times.
We must remember that we are all in this together and we need to continue to support one another, remain optimistic and embrace our spirit of aloha to get through these challenging times.
So that I may also do my part to help, please feel free to reach out to my office at
YukiLei.Sugimura@mauicounty.us, or call 270-7887 or call my cell phone at 870-8047.
* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chair of the council’s Water, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.