Maui Business

Emergencies Drive Demand for OHA Consumer Loans

May 16, 2012, 11:09 AM HST
* Updated May 16, 11:13 AM
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OHA consumer loan officer Tracy Mattos reviews an application from a potential Native Hawaiian borrower. Photo: Alice Silbanuz

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.
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Examples of what the loan can be used for include funeral expenses as well as emergency home and auto repairs.

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“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.”

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