MEO disburses Maui Relief TANF/HCF funds that help 4,000 people in 5 months

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April 17, 2024

More than 1,000 households and 4,000 individuals who were directly impacted by the wildfires have received housing, vehicle, utility, clothing and school supply assistance in the five months since the inception of the Maui fires relief program, according to Maui Economic Opportunity.

MEO, which operates the program in partnership with the state Department of Human Services and Hawaii Community Foundation, has committed $6.8 million to date, the nonprofit Community Action Agency reported Wednesday.

The average amount disbursed per household is $6,603 with rental assistance and car payments heading the list of outlays.

Initially, the program only assisted families with dependent children as part of federal TANF money, but in February, the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) provided funding to offer the same assistance to households without children. HCF also provided funding for noncitizen households who are not eligible for the federal TANF benefits.

Assistance is available for individuals and households directly impacted by the wildfires on August 8, 2023, and who are at or below 350 percent of the poverty level – which for a family of four is $120,750 annually.

The benefits are:

  • Housing. Up to $5,000 for deposit and $5,000 per month for four months for rent and mortgage.
  • Vehicle. Reliable automobile down payment up to $5,000 and monthly payments of up to $500 for four months.
  • Utility. One-time utility deposit up to $2,000 and combined utility payments for four months not to exceed $750.
  • Clothing allowance. Up to $350 per dependent child under age 18, $500 per adult over 18 years old, and $750 for pregnant women in their third trimester.
  • School supply allowance. $300 for each eligible school-aged child.

Eligible families and individuals can tap each form of assistance once but assistance does not have to be accessed at the same time. For example, a household may be receiving housing funding from another source and not eligible for the program. But when that funding lapses, the individual or household can submit a request for housing assistance.

To apply, visit the MEO website at www.meoinc.org or call (808) 243-4404. This program requires supporting documents, so applicants are advised to check out the website and assemble the documents before applying.

Monni Nash, Maui Relief TANF Program manager, helps an applicant for the program that assists those directly impacted by the Aug. 8, 2023, wildfires at Maui Economic Opportunity offices in Wailuku. Program applicants can sign up in-person at MEO, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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