(BIVN) – The County of Hawaiʻi is now accepting applications for Phase 3 of the Voluntary Housing Buyout Program (VHBP) for properties impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea Eruption.
The Hawaiʻi County Planning Department made the announcement in a news release, as well as in a video “talk story” (above) with Hawaiʻi County Planning Director Zendo Kern and CDBG-DR Program Manager Julie Leialoha published to YouTube.
Officials say Phase 3 focuses on eligible properties that are undeveloped or vacant, and runs from Monday, July 18, through Oct. 31, 2022. Applications are still being accepted “for eligible primary and secondary homes and long-term rentals” during this period, the news release states.
From the County of Hawaiʻi:
The County’s VHBP staff are processing more than 450 applications for primary and secondary residences from the first two phases of the program. The first five buyout properties were acquired in June 2022. The program has also received just over 200 registrations for undeveloped properties.
“Since the start of this voluntary housing buyout program our aim has been to help eligible property owners impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea eruption with just over $107 million in federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds,” said County Disaster Recovery Officer Douglas Le. “To make sure we9re able to help as many people as possible with this buyout assistance, maximum grant award amounts were put into place.”
Purchase offers for eligible applicants are based on the 2017 pre-eruption, appraised market value by the County’s Real Property Tax Division, up to $230,000 for eligible primary and secondary residence property. Following an action plan substantial amendment process with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a public engagement process, the County was approved to establish a maximum grant award of $22,000 for undeveloped property.
Primary and secondary homes that applied during the first phases of the program have already committed nearly 85% of the HUD funds for the program and an additional 10% of the funds will be used for program delivery and administrative costs. The County aims to use the remaining approximately 5% of the funds for undeveloped properties but cautions that additional primary and secondary home applications submitted during Phase 3 could reduce remaining funds significantly.
“Unfortunately, it’s likely we won’t be able to serve everyone that applies with the limited grant funds,” said Julie Leialoha, Program Manager for the VHBP. “As we begin Phase 3, eligible primary and secondary homes will be served first; and undeveloped properties will be served based on the availability of remaining funds and ranked by program criteria. For property owners of undeveloped land who are interested in this buyout assistance, we encourage you to submit an application and we’ll do our best to serve as many applicants, especially those who are low- to moderate-income, as possible.”
The funding for the VHBP through HUD requires at least 70% of program funds serve the low- to moderate-income (LMI) households. To make sure the funds are serving those who need them the most, a ranking system was put into place that scores applications based on multiple factors. These factors include whether the eligible property was a residence or undeveloped, household income of the applicants, the extent of damage from the eruption, and the availability of public road access.
Acquired properties will be owned by the County and managed as open space to reduce risks from future eruptions.
For a summary of Phase 3 and how to apply, visit this page on the the Hawaiʻi County website.