Relief for Renters and Homeowners

This page will be updated continuously to reflect the most recent information on the coronavirus. This page was last updated on January 1, 2021.

 

Overview 

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (COVID relief law) to provide continued relief to American families and businesses struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  This includes additional assistance to homeowners and renters in Hawaii.

 

***WHAT IS NEW IN THE COVID RELIEF LAW ***

 

ASSISTANCE FOR RENTERS

The COVID relief law provides Hawaii at least $200 million in dedicated rent and utility assistance funding through the Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.  This is new funding, separate from the CARES Act funding that supported the rental assistance program currently administered by Aloha United Way and Catholic Charities on behalf of the State of Hawaii and other rental assistance programs administered by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the counties.

 

Who is Eligible?

Renter households with incomes no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:

  • One or more individual in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to or during the coronavirus outbreak; and
  • One or more individual in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which includes:
    • A past due utility, home energy, or rent notice or an eviction notice;
    • Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions; or
    • Any other evidence of such risk as determined by the grantee.
    • Households with incomes of no more than 50 percent of AMI will receive priority.

 

Eligible Assistance

Assistance can be used to pay for:

  • Rent;
  • Rental arrears;
  • Utilities and home energy costs;
  • Utilities and home energy arrears; or
  • Other expenses related to housing.

Assistance will be paid directly to the landlord or utility company unless the landlord refuses to accept the funds, in which case the assistance can be paid to the renter.

Landlords and owners may apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, so long as the tenant cosigns the application, the landlord provides documentation to the tenant, and the payments are used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligation to the owner.

 

How to Apply

Funds will be administered through the state and counties and information on how to apply will be available soon.

 

EVICTION MORATORIUM FOR RENTERS

The 2021 COVID relief law extends the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021.

Landlords are prohibited from filing for eviction or charging any fees for unpaid rent and fees during the moratorium and must issue a notice to tenants to vacate 30 days before an eviction once the moratorium ends.  After the CDC moratorium period ends, renters will be responsible for making payments.

Renters seeking information on whether they are covered by the moratorium should contact Legal Aid Society of Hawaii or a HUD approved housing counselor.  You can find the nearest housing counselor here or by calling (800) 569-4287.

 

INCOME RELIEF

Besides direct rental assistance, the 2021 COVID relief law provides Hawaii individuals and families income relief that may help pay for housing costs during this crisis.  These include:

  • Direct Payments: Many people will qualify for a new round of direct payments from the federal government.  Please see our factsheet here.
  • Unemployment: Congress has extended eligibility for unemployment benefits and increased the amounts people can receive.  This includes independent contractors, part-time workers, and others not normally eligible for unemployment benefits.  Please see the unemployment benefits factsheet.  If your job has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for unemployment benefits in Hawaii here.
  • Small Business Support: Loans are available to small businesses to help cover payroll and operating expenses and may help you if you own a small business, or if you are an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or self-employed.  Please see our factsheet here.
  • Tax Relief: Tax relief may help you and your family during this time, including by postponing the deadline to file and pay your 2020 taxes.  Please see our factsheet here.

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has developed an FAQ document that includes additional state actions in support of homeowners and renters, which can be found here.

In addition to the COVID relief law, Congress previously provided relief to homeowners in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that remains in effect.

 

ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS

Mortgage payment forbearance

The CARES Act provides relief for homeowners with government-guaranteed mortgages. 

If the coronavirus pandemic has caused job loss, income reduction, sickness, or other issues, federally held mortgages are eligible for relief.  Mortgages backed by FHA, USDA, VA, HUD Sec 184, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac are eligible for interest and penalty free forbearance for at least 6 months and up to one year. 

  • Forbearance puts your payments on pause.  You will still have to make these payments eventually; however, interest will not accrue during this coronavirus-related forbearance period.
  • Your credit will not suffer.  Negative credit reporting is also suspended.

Homeowners in need of the forbearance should reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible or contact a HUD-approved housing counselor.  Contact information for a homeowner’s mortgage servicer can be found in monthly mortgage statements or coupon book.  The nearest housing counselor can be found at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor/ or by calling (800) 569-4287.

 

Q:  How do I know if my mortgage is eligible for relief (or federally held)?

A:  To find out if your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you can use the look-up tools developed by each agency:

 

Q:  What if my loan is not federally backed?

A:  You should still reach out to your loan servicer.  Financial regulators have encouraged lenders to work with mortgage holders.  Contact Legal Aid Society of Hawaii or a HUD approved housing counselor.  You can find the nearest housing counselor here or by calling (800) 569-4287.

 

Foreclosure relief

Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages, or mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who are facing foreclosure will also have relief from foreclosure or being forced to relocate as we address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The foreclosure eviction moratorium is in effect until January 21, 2021. 

 

Helpful information resources: