Maui Renters Behind on Utility Bills Urged to Seek Help through New County Program
Millions of dollars in federal assistance to households behind on rent and electric bills are now available through the County of Maui.
Disconnections for nonpayment and collections activities have been suspended for more than a year as part of Hawaiian Electric’s effort to help households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium, set by the Public Utilities Commission, is scheduled to end on May 31.
The County of Maui is leveraging federal funds for the rent and utility assistance. The program is being administered in partnership with Catholic Charities of Hawai‘i.
Here’s what customers need to know about the program:
- Maui County renters/landlords may go to https://mauicounty.gov/MauiRentHelp or call 808-873-4673 to learn more about the Maui County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
- Priority will be given to applicants who meet the following criteria:
- Have a household income less than 50 percent of the area median income for Maui County, OR
- Have at least one household member who has been unemployed for at least 90 days at the time of application AND is still unemployed at the time of application
- Only one person per household should apply. In addition, landlords may apply on behalf of their tenants, with the tenants’ permission. To apply for assistance, households must first complete an online pre-screening form. Once the pre-screening form has been received and reviewed, applicants will be contacted with further guidance on next steps. Applicants must:
- Show financial harm from the pandemic, such as qualifying for unemployment, job loss, reduction in wages, or increase in household expenses
- Show at least one household member is at risk of losing their housing
- Have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income for Maui County
While the end of the moratorium won’t trigger immediate disconnections, customers having difficulty paying their bill are urged to submit a payment arrangement request to ensure uninterrupted service. Go to hawaiianelectric.com/paymentarrangement to submit a request.
About 13 percent of the residential customers across the company’s five-island service territory who are past due by more than 30 days are currently on a payment arrangement.
“Our goal is to ensure that every Hawaiian Electric customer stays connected,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “To do this, residential and business customers still dealing with the financial toll of the pandemic should contact us so that together we can set up workable monthly installments. We need to hear from you for us to help.”
Hawaiian Electric is reaching out to residential and business customers who have fallen furthest behind. Residential and smaller commercial customers with a past due balance are being offered 4-, 6- or 12-month payment arrangement options. The company has added an 18-month option for residential customers.