(BIVN) – The County of Hawai‘i has announced it will begin accepting applications for the first phase of the Kīlauea Disaster Recovery Voluntary Housing Buyout Program starting on April 30, 2021.
Phase 1 addresses properties that were used as a primary residence at the time of the eruption, officials say.
The 2018 eruption on Kīlauea’s Lower East Rift Zone destroyed 612 homes, including 294 primary residences, the County says.
“Buyout offers for qualifying applicants are based on the 2017 pre-eruption assessed market value with a limit of $230,000,” a County news release stated. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.
To be eligible for VHBP, the property must meet at least one of the following criteria as a result of the 2018 eruption:
- Inundated by lava.
- Isolated by lava or inaccessible due to eruption activity.
- Suffered direct physical damage from lava, including structures affected by fires caused by lava (includes wildfires).
- Been physically affected by secondary effects of volcanic activity, such as heating or gases.
“The 2018 eruption upended the lives of lower Puna residents, and many who lost a home are still needing help with finding secure, permanent housing,” said Douglas Le, the County’s Kīlauea disaster recovery officer. “This federally-funded program will help them get back on their feet and address an urgent need following the disaster while reducing risks from future eruptions.”
The following is the application timeline for the three phases:
- Phase 1 (primary residences)
April 30, 2021 – July 30, 2021
- Phase 2 (secondary residences)
November 1, 2021 – January 31, 2022
- Phase 3 (undeveloped properties)
May 2, 2022 – July 29, 2022
The Application Process
According to the County of Hawaiʻi:
STEP 1: Application Submittal & Review
• Verify receipt of documents and application is complete.
• Verify applicant and property are eligible.
STEP 2: Application Assessment/Prioritization
• Verify eligibility information.
• Verify property information and damage.
• Determine application prioritization.
STEP 3: Inspection & Environmental Clearance
• Conduct site inspection, if needed.
• Conduct final regulatory/environmental review and clearance.
STEP 5: Demolition & Restoration
• Property abatement and demolition done (if needed).
• Site restored to natural state.
• Conduct final site inspection.
STEP 6: Completion & Subsequent Use
• File closeout review completed.
• Consider property stewards and future uses compatible with open space.
From the County:
Phasing is based on use of the property at the time of the eruption. Late applications will be processed during subsequent phases. Time between each phase’s application period will be used by staff to process applications and submit buyout offers to qualifying applicants. The application form can be downloaded from the County’s Kīlauea recovery website – recovery.hawaiicounty.gov – starting April 30. Applications submitted before the appropriate phase start date won’t be accepted. Applicants in need of a paper copy can contact the Kīlauea Disaster Recovery Division at (808) 961-8996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The VHBP is funded with an allocation of $83.84 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. Buyout offers will be based on the 2017 pre-eruption assessed market value with a limit of $230,000. The VHBP received strong support from residents who responded to the County’s Kīlauea Recovery Housing Survey. In total, more than 800 people completed the survey, with 77% reporting they are interested in a buyout as at least one of their options. A large majority of respondents (87%) said their property was inundated by lava; 34% received an insurance payout.
Applications from households that are low- to moderate-income will be given priority, although households of all income ranges are eligible to apply for this assistance. Acquired properties will be managed as open space, as required by HUD. Limited agricultural uses may be allowed.
Additionally, the County is starting a Housing Relocation Services Program (HRSP), also funded by the CDBG-DR grant, on April 30 that will help income-qualified residents who were displaced by the eruption and do not have secure, permanent housing. Both property owners and long-term renters who were displaced by the 2018 eruption are eligible for this program.
Services with HRSP include identifying rental properties, or properties for purchase, and providing financial assistance for costs to secure permanent housing, including security deposits for rentals and partial down payment assistance.