The Office of Hawaiian Affairs today announced a relief package of emergency loans and $500,000 in aid for Native Hawaiians impacted by the natural disasters on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island.
“Our deepest aloha goes out to the people whose lives have been turned upside down by these natural disasters,” said OHA Chair Colette Machado. “What is being announced today is just the first phase of OHA’s assistance to our beneficiaries on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. We will continue to work with these communities to understand their ongoing needs, and we also will be developing initiatives that provide longer term assistance.”
At a meeting this morning, the OHA Board approved $500,000 in disaster relief aid that will include funds for one-time, financial assistance to qualified Native Hawaiian households on both islands and qualified kalo farmers on Kauaʻi, and funds to address other health-related issues caused by the eruptions on Hawaiʻi Island.
The elements of the disaster relief package were based on specific requests from the Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi communities. Kauaʻi and Niʻihau Trustee Dan Ahuna led a team of OHA staff on a site visit in May to assess damages sustained by the Native Hawaiian communities in Wainiha and Hāʻena. In addition, Hawaiʻi Trustee Robert K. Lindsey Jr. and island staff have been in constant dialogue with community leaders to gauge the needs of those affected by the lava.
“We mahalo the many in our community, from the individuals to the grassroots organizations, who came forward immediately to provide kōkua to those in need,” Ahuna said. “Our community has thrived through crisis before because we always come together. We understand that our role here at OHA is to follow the lead of the community and provide assistance as appropriate.”
Trustee Lindsey also recognized the community-driven relief efforts on Hawaiʻi Island.
“I have so much aloha for the many who just showed up, rolled up their sleeves and helped,” said Lindsey. “In these times of uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that your neighbors are always here for you.”
Disaster Relief Loan Program
In addition, OHA’s Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF) Board of Directors yesterday approved a new disaster relief loan. Native Hawaiians experiencing a loss as a result of the disasters are now eligible for loans of up to $20,000 at four percent interest with up to six months of deferred payments. Loans may be used for home improvement, vehicle repair or replacement, or business stabilization.
The NHRLF was established in 1985 and funded and overseen by the federal Administration of Native Americans. OHA administers NHRLF and the fund currently has $15 million available to lend.
In addition, OHA administers a separate consumer micro loan program that provides low-cost loans to Native Hawaiians experiencing temporary financial hardship due to unforeseen events. Loans of up to $7,500 with a five percent interest rate can be used for unexpected home or auto repair and emergency health situations.
Accessing OHA’s Relief Aid
The emergency proclamations Gov. David Ige signed for Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island will allow OHA to expedite contracting with vendors to provide these relief services. OHA is in the process of securing vendor contracts for Kauaʻi. Meanwhile, intake forms for flood relief assistance are currently available at www.oha.org/kauai and can be submitted to OHA starting on June 12 at OHA’s Kauaʻi office located at 4405 Kukui Grove St., Suite 103 in Līhuʻe.
OHA staff will be accepting intake forms and providing information on our relief aid efforts at several events on Kauaʻi next week, including the Kauaʻi Flood Relief Resources Fair on June 16 at Hanalei Elementary School.
OHA is in the process of securing vendor contracts for Hawaiʻi Island. Meanwhile, intake forms for lava relief assistance are currently available at www.oha.org/puna and may be submitted to OHA starting on June 12 at OHA’s Hilo office located at Wailoa Plaza, Suite 20-CDE, 399 Hualani Street. The completed forms will be forwarded to vendors once they are selected.
Impacted beneficiaries may visit www.oha.org/kauai and www.oha.org/puna for information on the agency’s disaster relief efforts, including intake forms for relief assistance, upcoming resource events and other updates.