COVID-19 Utility Assistance Programs

The Division of Consumer Advocacy supports the efforts of those providing aid in our communities as Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suspension of termination or disconnection of regulated utility services due to non-payment and/or assessment of other charges ends May 31, 2021. We encourage customers to contact their utility to work out payment arrangements, continue paying their bills to the extent possible during this time, and continue to be on the lookout for opportunities for bill assistance.

The Division of Consumer Advocacy wants to help inform consumers who may be in need of assistance of programs they may qualify for. The programs below all offer some sort of utility aid, even if it is not clear in the program title. Clicking each program will expand to show more information including program details and eligibility.

County of Kauai 2021 Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance Program (Open for applications May 10th at 6am)
The County of Kauai 2021 Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance Program will begin accepting online applications at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 10. In person application assistance at the Pi‘ikoi building will be available on May 11 from 9am until 3pm. The program will be administered by the Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union (KGEFCU).

Eligible applicants may receive up to $4,500 per month for rent with no monthly cap on qualifying utilities. Information from both tenants and landlords must be provided in order for an application to qualify for the program. 

To qualify for rent and/ or utility assistance on May 10, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Kaua‘i County resident;
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a renter
  • Have incurred a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic or experienced significant increased costs, or other financial hardship, directly or indirectly related to the outbreak, and have an annual gross household income at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI) for the number of members in their household.

Visit https://kauairenthelp.com/ to learn more.

Department of Hawaiian Homelands Rent Relief Program
In a continued partnership with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) is expanding the Native Hawaiian Rental & Utilities Relief Program to include all eligible Native Hawaiians living in Hawaiʻi. Prior to this program, only beneficiaries on the DHHL Waiting List who are at least 50 percent Hawaiian, were eligible for assistance using the DHHL funding.

Eligible Expenses:

  • Rent (maximum of 12 months)
  • Back rent from March 13, 2020 to current
  • Utilities (electric, gas, water/sewer, trash)
  • Back payment on utilities going back to March 13, 2020

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be native Hawaiian and living in the State of Hawaiʻi
  • Rent housing in the State of Hawaiʻi
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Prove income loss due to unemployment or loss of work for more than 90 days, a reduction in household income, or homelessness/housing instability
  • Meet income qualification—less than 80% Area Median Income (AMI). Amount differs by county

Visit http://www.hawaiiancouncil.org/dhhl to learn more and apply.

Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a federal program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. It will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

A household is eligible if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers' existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

When Can I Sign Up for the Benefit?

The program has been authorized, but the start date has not yet been established. Please continue to check the Emergency Broadband Benefit page for program updates.

Hale Kakou - Cares Act Assistance Program)
Until further notice, Rental and Mortgage assistance services through the Hale Kākou Program are SUSPENDED. Utility assistance remains AVAILABLE.

Funded through the Community Services Block Grant CARES Act Federal Funds, HCAP is providing utility assistance for those individuals and households impacted by COVID-19 through loss of employment, reduction of work hours, or other pandemic-related challenges.

Purpose: Homelessness Prevention and Energy Crisis Intervention
Provides: Utility Payments
Method: Assistance will be provided by direct payment made by HCAP to utility companies.

Visit https://www.hcapweb.org/hale-kakou/ to learn more.

Hawaiʻi County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
ERAP is funded by the County of Hawaiʻi through federal funding and will provide rent and utility grants to an estimated 3,400 households that income qualify and can prove hardship due to COVID‐19 for each month they receive assistance from March 2020 to December 2021. Funding will be limited to households' primary residence on Hawaiʻi Island. Households will be limited to 12 months of total grant assistance.

To qualify for rent or utility assistance grants starting April 12th, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a Hawai'i Island resident
  • At least 18 years old
  • Lost income due to COVID‐19
  • 2020 or current annual gross household income at or below 80% of area median income for the number of members in their household.

Click here for more information and how to apply.

Hawaii Utility Bill Assistance Program (No longer accepting applications)
Due to high demand for assistance, this program’s funds have been depleted. Aloha United Way has stopped accepting new applications for this program.

The Hawai‘i Utility Bill Assistance program was created to help Hawaiʻi residents who are financially affected by the pandemic and who have fallen behind on their payments to electric, water, sewer and gas utilities.

To qualify for assistance, you need to demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Must be a full-time resident of the state of Hawaii.
  • Inability to make utility payments including electric, gas, water and/or sewer, as confirmed by current past-due bills.
  • Primary residential service address only – no commercial businesses permitted.
  • Maximum benefit assistance per household: $750 total (combined)
  • Applicant may only apply for assistance with utility bills from approved public utility companies listed in the application.
  • Documentation provided must have originated from utility company

Visit https://www.auw.org/utilityhelp for more information or to check the status of your application.

Honolulu County Rent & Utility Relief Program
The City and County of Honolulu has developed the Rent & Utility Relief Program with $114 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The program does not currently have a cap on applications and will continue accepting them until further notice. In addition, these innovations make it easier for more renters to get help:

  • Households with QUEST/Medicaid health insurance can now use their enrollment as proof of income. The program also accepts Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) enrollment as proof of income.
  • An increased use of self-attestation will make applying faster.
  • The City will use rent and utility funds for Housing Stability Services that support: housing navigation or housing counseling, coverage of first month’s rent, certain legal fees, and other programs to lift up qualified households.

You can find more resources from the City and our partners at oneoahu.org/resources.

In an effort to expand access to rental and utility relief, the City and County of Honolulu and its community partners are increasing the income limit for the Rental and Utility Relief Program to households at or below 80% of Oʻahu’s area median income, starting immediately.

It will help qualified people on Oʻahu pay for their rent and their bills for electricity, water and sewer, and natural gas. It will pay for up to 12 months of bills, depending on a person’s financial situation.

People can visit oneoahu.org/renthelp to sign up for a notification when the portal re-opens. We encourage people to visit oneoahu.org/resources to find more support services offered by the City, our government partners, and nonprofits.

What the Program Pays For

For qualified households, the rent and utility program pays:

  • Up to $2,500 a month in rent and utility arrears going back to March 2020.
  • Up to $2,000 for future rent payments.
  • Up to $500 a month for future electric, water and sewer, and gas bills.
  • For future payments, a household must re qualify every three months and funds must be available.
  • Eligible household utilities: Electricity, water and sewer, and gas.
  • Total length of rent and utility help is 12 months per household.
  • Not eligible: Mortgages, home and/or cell phone bills, because of federal regulations.

Who Can Qualify

The program requires a qualifying household to:

  • Show financial harm from the pandemic, such as qualifying for unemployment, job loss, reduction in wages, or increase in household expenses.
  • Show at least one household member is at risk of losing their housing.
  • Be below the income limits.

Priority will be given to applicants who qualify:

  • With a household income less than 80% of the area median income for Honolulu County; OR
  • If a household member has been unemployed for at least 90 days at the time of application AND is still unemployed at the time of application.

A complete list of income limits per household and how to qualify for the program is in the Frequently Asked Questions document at oneoahu.org/renthelp.

Visit https://www.oneoahu.org/renthelp for more information, updates, and to check if you qualify to apply.

Maui County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
It’s a County of Maui program to help low-income households that have been hit hardest financially by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their rent, utility bills, or both.

For qualified households, the program pays up to:
○ Past rent and utility bills: $2,500 a month. The program can pay bills going back to March 13, 2020.
○ Current and future bills: $2,000 a month for rent and up to $500 a month for utilities.
● Up to 12 months of total support is available.
● Payments are made directly to the landlord or utility

The program requires a qualifying household to:
o Show financial harm from the pandemic, such as qualifying for unemployment, job loss, reduction in wages, or increase in household expenses.
o Show at least one household member is at risk of losing their housing.
o Have a household income at or below 80% of area annual income, according to household size

For more information view frequently asked questions here.

Apply at https://mauicounty.gov/MauiRentHelp

OHA's Ka Wailele Emergency Financial Assistance Program
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is making $1,044,253 available to implement an emergency financial assistance program for Native Hawaiians.  OHA’s Ka Wailele Emergency Financial Assistance Program is being administered by Hawaiʻi Community Lending (HCL), a Native Hawaiian community development financial institution. See requirements below.

How to Apply

  1. Online application at www.KaWailele.org
  2. By phone at  (808) 587-7656 (requires the (808) to be dialed)