Emergencies Drive Demand for OHA Consumer Loans
By Sonia Isotov
From behind her desk at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Tracy Mattos has bailed many families out of emergencies through OHA’s Consumer Micro-Loan Program.
OHA’s Consumer Micro-Loan Program makes up to $7,500 available to eligible Native Hawaiians who are experiencing an unforeseen emergency.
Last year, the program approved 42 loans for $235,000, which is up 3% from the previous year. Through the first four months of this year, the program has already approved 54 loans valued at $248,000.
Here’s a statewide breakdown of the demand through April:
- O‘ahu – 25 loans valued at $144,945 approved mainly for auto repairs.
- Hawai‘i Island – 19 loans valued at $79,224 mainly for auto and home repairs.
- Maui – 4 loans valued at $18,825 primarily for home repairs.
- Moloka‘i – 4 loans valued at $25,500 largely for funeral expenses.
- Kaua‘i – 2 loans valued at $4,400 for medical expenses.
Examples of what the loan can be used for include funeral expenses as well as emergency home and auto repairs.
“I can’t help everybody, but I do my best to help everyone,” said Mattos, who has reduced the program’s delinquency rate to 17% from 35% over the past year. “It gives me satisfaction knowing that I played a role in helping some Native Hawaiian consumers get through difficult times.”