CNHA relieves financial strain through COVID rent and utility relief program

The pandemic brought on added stress and financial strain on many families in Hawaii. Kainoa Carlson sits down with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to see how they’re programs are aiding those in need.

Sponsored by Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

CNHA’s programs aim to help families hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic through housing stability. They help to pay rent and utilities for both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian residents. Currently, CNHA is administering 80 million dollars of relief contracts and has partnerships with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, City and County of Honolulu, and the state of Hawaii.

CNHA operates a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) which means that they are more flexible compared to traditional lending institutions. “It’s a huge impact especially on communities who are at the periphery of being able to access loan plans,” says Mehanaokala Hind, Senior Vice President of Community Programs at CNHA. Being more flexible allows access to loan plans for individuals who need the money but wouldn’t normally qualify.

The programs started because the CNHA CEO saw a need for home repair and maintenance on Hawaiian homesteads. Because of how the system works, residents living on homesteads have a hard time accessing capital for these repairs. CNHA can provide the upfront funds to serve their needs.

The rent and utility assistance program is a high demand program, but there is a lot of funds still available! Kainalu Severson, Director of Emergency Financial Assistance at CNHA suggests gathering all supporting documents prior to applying, and to also reach out to your landlord as their participation is required. For those interested, please visit hawaiiancouncil.org/kokua or hawaiiancouncil.org/loanfund for more information!