Hawaii's rent supplement initiative funds expected to run out later this year
Thomas Flores came to Hawaii two years ago with a sack of clothes and a simple dream, to find work and live on his own.
"If the rent subsidy ends, a lot of people will end up on the streets or they will lack financial resources to pursue their dreams," Waikiki resident Thomas Flores said.
According to Thomas, that would've been him if not for the state's rent supplement initiative, a program that gives qualified residents up to $500 per month to help pay for housing.
"Keep them in their homes for as long as possible and this is a way to do it," Senator Sharon Moriwaki said.
The program's current funds are expected to run out later this year.
A bill at the Capitol would fund the program for another two years if lawmakers agree to the $2.5 million request.
A 2018 report from the Aloha United Way showed nearly half of Hawaii's households are living paycheck to paycheck.
"Once they go on the street, people don't want to rent to homeless. That's another problem," Senator Moriwaki said.
The state originally created the program to help Hawaii's middle class families including police, firefighters, and teachers.
It's since extended itself to include the general public, folks like Flores.
"It also has changed me as an individual meaning I understand what aloha means. Regardless if you like an individual you always help them no matter what," Flores said.
The Senate Bill passed its first House committee Thursday. It has potentially two more committees to get through before funding can be released to the program.