(BIVN) – The County of Hawaiʻi on Wednesday announced the launch of a new Emergency Resilience Loan Program designed to help certain residents who have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The County wrote in a news release:
The program will offer financial counseling and loans to ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) residents who reside on Hawai’i Island and have lost income due to COVID-19. Maximum loans amounts will be $2,500 for individual workers and $5,000 for self-employed persons.
Local community development nonprofits Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) and Hawaiian Community Lending (HCL) will administer the program on behalf of the County. HCL will provide the loans, while HCA will deliver financial counseling to every borrower.
Online loan applications will be made available [here], starting May 27th at 8am. Individuals with no or limited access to internet or a computer may call 808-934-0801 for a paper application or complete an application over the phone. Funds will go to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Mayor Kim noted, “During this most difficult time for our working families and self-employed, the County is pleased to be able to partner with Hawai’i Community Foundation, Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawai’i Community Lending to provide financial support and counseling. By working together as a community, we will get through this and thrive again.”
Hawai’i County Council Member, Ashley Kierkiewicz led the charge by introducing Resolution 599-20, calling for establishment of the program after learning of the successful Kauai County Emergency Loan Program that recently got $275,000 to 72 workers and entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19. Kierkiewicz brought County and community stakeholders together to design the product suite for Hawai’i Island and secured $250,000 in County funds to kick-start the program.
“Hawai’i’s economy has been obliterated, and our residents and entrepreneurs are feeling an economic pain that is made even more stark with the slow and uneven disbursement of federal and state relief benefits,” said Council Member Kierkiewicz. “The Emergency Resilience Loan Program will help provide immediate relief while many wait for government benefits to come through. It also lays a critical foundation for how we as a County can leverage public-private partnerships and distribute incoming CARES Act money to support community revitalization and recovery.”
HCA and HCL implemented the Kauai County Emergency Loan Program in April, processing 284 applications and approving 72 borrowers in just 10 days. The loan assistance reached a total of 184 Garden Isle children and adults in borrower households. The innovative loan program has helped support multi-sector partnerships between government, philanthropy, health, and nonprofit community development organizations to bring affordable loans to individuals who are unable to qualify at credit unions or banks.
Resolution 627-20 granted $250,000 from Hawai’i County to HCA and HCL for loan capital, while Hawai’i Community Foundation committed $69,000 for program operations and to buy down the interest rate of every program loan so borrowers will pay 0% in interest.
The program targets individuals considered ALICE before COVID-19 and combats the use of high-interest, predatory financial products like payday loans which charge up to 460% APR. According to the ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship in Hawai’i report, 45% of households on Hawaii Island are considered ALICE – living one paycheck away from financial hardship.
Applicants who have household incomes below ALICE will be referred to social service agencies for emergency grants.
Applicants who have household incomes above ALICE will be referred to their local credit unions and banks for personal loans.
To apply for a Hawai’i County Emergency Resilience Loan, visit HawaiianCommunity.net.
Persons without internet access or a computer are encouraged to call 808.934.0801 to request a paper application or to complete an application over the phone.