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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Hawaii – Making Home Affordable options
Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Hawaii homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Hawaii homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.
There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.
Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:
- Lower your monthly mortgage payments with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Lower your interest rate with Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
- Check eligibility for principal reduction with Principal Reduction Alternative SM (PRA)
- Get help if currently unemployed with Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
- Reduce your 2nd mortgage monthly payments with Second Lien Modification Program (2MP)
- Explore your foreclosure alternatives with Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
- FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673 (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.
Rental Help for residents of State of Hawaii
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
Section 8 Housing Program is a federally funded rental assistance for low-income families, disabled persons, and the elderly available to all States. The Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers enable qualifying low income population to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in private markets at their choice. Learn more about Section 8 Housing Programs.
Section 8 Housing Program for State of Hawaii is administered by the Housing Authority of each county government. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is responsible for the Island of Oahu except Honolulu which is covered by the City and County of Honolulu Section 8 Program. In Hawaii, Section 8 rental assistance helps eligible low income families by subsidizing their rental housing of choice through the Housing Choice Vouchers. The rental assistance offered by Section 8 helps qualifying Hawaii low income families and individuals broaden their housing options in the private rental market.
The Housing Choice Vouchers which provide Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) are portable. They can be taken, if the beneficiaries move to a different place, and used to subsidize the rent of the new housing of choice. Each year U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets Fair Market rent limits for housing units based on its size and community market conditions. This Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, as reported by HUD, provides close to 9 thousand vouchers in total for needy families and individuals across the State of Hawaii.
Usually, each housing authority has a waiting list that is closed most of the time and the applications for the Section 8 Vouchers are taken periodically at a time determined by the Housing Authority. The open period for taking Section 8 applications is advertised and all related social service agencies are notified.
When the waiting list is open, completed applications are accepted from all applicants. The Housing Authority will then verify the information in each application relevant to the applicant’s eligibility, admission and benefits level. Some housing authorities have lists with order of priority. For example,the Hawaii Public Housing Authority listed the following as Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Order of Priority and Preferences:
- Victim of Domestic Violence
- Homeless residing in a transitional shelter with a social service plan
- Involuntary displacement
- Living in substandard housing
- Paying more than 50% of family income towards rent and utilities
- Veterans and veteran’s surviving spouse
- Resident who live and/or work in county
- Victims of reprisal or hate crimes
- Working families and those unable to work because of age or disability
If the applying household is approved, the local Housing Authority managing Section 8 Program issues a Housing Choice Voucher to the beneficiaries based on their family size and needs. Approved Section 8 applicants can select housing within a neighborhood of their choice from a property owner willing to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The owner of the property must sign Section 8 contract with the Housing Authority. Tenant Based Rental Assistance contracts must have a minimum lease of one year and cannot exceed two years – but they can be renewed. Choices of housing units may include family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the local Housing Authority.
The HUD and local Housing Authority also determine fair market rents in TBRA units which must be affordable to low-income families and remain affordable for a designated amount of time.
The voucher recipients are required to pay 30% of their monthly adjusted income, or 10% of their monthly income towards the rent, plus they pay any rent that is above the Payment Standard for the unit as established by the agency. The Housing Choice Voucher pays the difference between tenants portion and the contract rent. The Housing Authority pays the difference by sending the voucher payment of the subsidized rent directly to the landlord.
General eligibility requirements include low income limits that are set by HUD and are less than 50% of Area Media Income (AMI). Additional federal requirement is that at least 75% of the newly approved beneficiaries must have income of 30% or less of AMI. Benefit levels are based on local median income and local housing costs but are set largely at the federal level with limited local discretion.
Applications for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers can be submitted to the local Housing Authority when the waiting list is open. The application form can be obtained directly from the agency or by calling and asking to be mailed. After the application is submitted there is a verification process that includes face to face interview with an official from the Housing Authority. When approved the applicants will get a Housing Choice Voucher and are provided with list of Section 8 listings in the area. The Section 8 beneficiaries are free to choose a housing unit they like.
For specifics on eligibility of low income Hawaii residents for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher please, check with your local Hawaii Public Housing Authority.
Search Section 8 listed rentals in Hawaii here…
Hawaii Public Housing
Public Housing provides safe, decent and affordable rental housing to eligible Hawaiians – low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides federal grants to States’ local Public Housing Agencies (PHA) which manage the public housing developments for low-income residents at rents they can afford.
In general, housing developments owned, managed and maintained by the local PHA are referred to as Conventional Housing, or Low Rent Public Housing and units are offered to eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities at rental rates established by the PHA authorities within the HUD income limits and guidelines.
In Hawaii, safe, decent and affordable public housing is offered and manged by Hawaii Public Housing Authority and other Hawaiian Public Housing Authorities. Rental housing for low-income Hawaiians is available in many communities across the State of Hawaii. Currently, Hawaii Housing Finance Corporation owns and operates more than 5,000 Public Housing rental units for the benefit of low income Hawaiians.
Hawaii Public Housing rental units come in various types and sizes, and normally offer on-site management, maintenance staff, and may even include other supportive services. Normally there is a waiting list and once an unit become available the applicant is invited to a meeting with PHA officials where detailed information on the Public Housing Program is provided and the available public housing unit is offered.
As per the HUD requirements the approved Hawaii low income family pays a portion of their monthly income in rent, and the rest is subsidized by the HUD Public Housing grants.
Hawaiians interested in public housing rental units can inquire and apply at the local Public Housing Authority.
Housing Counseling Services
Contact one of the HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies in Hawaii State for the following education workshops or counseling services
– Fair Housing Pre-Purchase Education Workshops
– Financial Management/Budget Counseling
– Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling
– Mortgage Delinquency and Default Resolution Counseling
– Non-Delinquency Post Purchase Workshops
– Pre-purchase Counseling
– Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshops
– Predatory Lending Education Workshops
– Rental Housing Counseling
– Services for Homeless Counseling
Hawaii Homeless Service Organizations
If you are homeless in Hawaii and need help – call the listed homeless service organization in your area.
Family Life Center (Maui) – 808-877-0880
Family Promise of Hawaii (Oahu) – 808-548-7478
H-5 Hawaii Helping the Hungry Have Hope (Oahu) – 808-922-4790
Institute for Human Services (Oahu) 808-537-2724 (Men) – 808-845-7052 (Women & Children)
Kauai Economic Opportunity (Kauai) – 808-245-4077
Maui Economic Concerns of the Community (Maui) – 808-242-7600
Office for Social Ministry (Hawaii) – 808-935-3050
River of Life Mission (Oahu) – 808-680-0823
Salvation Army, Maui (Maui) – 808-871-6270
Waianae Community Outreach at Kalaeloa (Oahu) – 808-696-5667
Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Hawaii
Hawaii Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. More about SNAP.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In Hawaii the SNAP is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and is known as Hawaii SNAP Benefits. The Hawaii Department of Human Services is responsible for establishing the applicants eligibility and the monthly food stamp allotments. The federal government grant pays 100% of Hawaii Food Stamp Benefits while the administrative cost of operating the Hawaii Food Stamp program is shared between the US Federal Government and State of Hawaii.
According to Hawaii Department of Human Services, the SNAP program provides crucial food and nutritional support to qualifying low income and needy Hawaiian households, and those making a transition from welfare to self-sufficiency. The government grants apportioned for food stamps provide a real help to low income Hawaiian households allowing them to buy food they need for good nutrition and health.
Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits in Hawaii?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Hawaii, like in other States, are based on the household resources, income, household size, and are largely determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. For example, Hawaii can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.
Hawaii SNAP is a food assistance program, primarily designed for individuals and families in need of help, with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
In general, to qualify for SNAP Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Hawaii Resident – must be U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member must work or participate in an employment and training program, registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Under the general SNAP rules households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits etc. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. Some of allowed deductions are utility and telephone expenses, cost of dependent care, portion of medical expenses and a standard deduction from earned income. Local State Benefits Office can help with the current list of all allowable deductions.
- Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) – Most Hawaii households may be automatically or so called broad-based categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits including pamphlets from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by federal grants, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and any asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States can assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any TANF-funded benefit that can make food stamps applicants eligible. No asset test is required, and gross income limit for households without an elderly or disabled member is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Call 1-808-643-1643 to learn more about Hawaii SNAP eligibility rules.
Hawaii SNAP income standard limits per household size
|Household Size||Gross Monthly Income|
200% of poverty (BBCE)
|Gross Monthly Income|
130% of poverty
|Net Monthly Income
100% of poverty
|Each additional member add||$798||$518||$399|
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Hawaii SNAP Benefits Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Hawaii food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your local Department of Human Services office. There are other federal and state specific requirements that must be met for Food Stamp Benefits applicants in different situations.
What are the Dollar Amounts of Hawaii SNAP Benefits?
If approved, the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check below what are the maximum allowed food stamp monetary amounts. The food assistance dollar amounts are called allotments.
|Household Size||Hawaii SNAP Max Monthly Benefit (Allotment)|
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits in Hawaii?
To get the standard Hawaii SNAP application, contact your local DHS benefits office or print it form the DHS website.
Fill out all the required information, sign it and turn the application into the local DHS benefits office where you live.
The DHS Office must accept all applications on the date of delivery as long as they have name, address and signature. All required information can be provided later at the interview.
An official has to process your application and to interview you in order to decide if you are eligible for food stamp benefits.
The date your application is received by the DHS local office is the date from which you eligibility for SNAP benefits will be determined.
If eligible, you will start receiving Food Stamp Benefits from the date the office received your signed application.
SNAP Application Approval, Verification of Information, Rules
If you submitted application for SNAP Benefits and have scheduled an interview you must bring application supporting documents and proofs. Basic requirements are proofs of who you are, where you live and how much is the gross and net income of the household per month. Here are examples of what may be needed.
- Identification (Driver’s License, State ID card, passport);
- Where you live (a rental agreement, current bill with your address listed);
- Social Security Numbers (see note below about certain non-citizens);
- Earned income of everyone in your household for the past 30 days (recent pay stubs, a work statement from an employer). If self employed, income and expense or tax records;
- Unearned income (Unemployment benefits, SSI, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, school grants or loans, rental income, etc.);
- Medical expenses for anyone in your household who is elderly (60 and older) or disabled;
- Child and adult care costs due to someone working, looking for work, attending training or school, or participating in a required work activity;
- Child support paid by a person in your household;
- Proof of lawful immigration status ONLY for non-citizens applying for benefits (an Alien Registration Card, visa).
Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. Contact your local DHS Office.
The Food Assistance program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries. The federal rules state that food stamp beneficiaries between 18 and 59 who do not have any dependent children can get SNAP benefits only for 3 months in a 36-month period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program other than job search.
In addition, federal rules require that in order to get Food Stamps Benefits most able-bodied people between 16-59 years old cannot quite their jobs.
Unemployed must register for work, accept employment offers, and participate in Employment and Training Programs if offered by the State.
There are other federal and state specific requirements that must be met for Food Stamp Benefits applicants in different situations.
Applicants waiting for SNAP Benefits approval in Hawaii should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS Office. Households getting food stamps benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the local office in order to assure their participation in SNAP.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?
Hawaii SNAP provides the Food Stamp Benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Hawaii SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Hawaii Food First EBT Card.
Benefits are made available on the 3rd and the 5th of every month, based on the first letter of the client’s last name:
First Letter of the Last Name is: A – I = benefits available on the 3rd
First Letter of the Last Name is: J – Z = benefits available on the 5th
*Direct deposit cash benefits are made available on the first day of every month.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Card call Hawaii EBT Customer Service: 1-888-328-4292
How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?
SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores in State of Hawaii.
With their EBT Card food stamp recipients can buy any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Allowed are also seeds and plants to grow food for family’s consumption.
Notable exception are: tobacco, alcohol, food supplements, meals from restaurants, and hot food for immediate consumption.
I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services, as per federal rules – that is food assistance benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible.
Use the following phone number to get more information on any SNAP benefit questions in the State of Hawaii: 808-643-1643