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Unable to pay rent or mortgage? You’re not alone

The United States Census Bureau reports that nearly half of American adults lost employment since mid March, and 10% reported they could not pay their rent or mortgage with more than 20% concerned about their ability to pay upcoming rent or mortgage payments.

The the new U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey was conducted between April 23 and May 5, with 74,413 households responding.

Being unable to pay rent or mortgage on time was reported by 10.7% of adults, while another 3.2% reported they deferred payments.

When asked about the likelihood of being able to pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time, 21.3% reported only slight or no confidence in being able to pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. Another 2.5% reported next month’s mortgage is or will be deferred.

Right now, because of COVID-19 issues and businesses temporarily and maybe permanently closed, more than 30% of Hawaii’s population is now without work.  In Hawaii, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2018, 47 percent of Hawaii’s residents spend more than a third of their monthly income on rent.  That’s greater than any other state.  About one-quarter of renters put half of their income toward housing.

On Hawaii Island, County Council Member Ashley Kierkiewicz (Puna),  the Hawaii Island Realtors Association, the West Hawaii Board of Realtors, Hawaii County, and the Hawaii Community Foundation have concerns about the possibility of people being evicted for non payment, once the state moratorium on evictions–now through June 30– is lifted, and the courts reopen.  They’ve come together to fund a program known as the Rapid Response Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program, being implemented on the Big Island by Ku’ikahi Mediation Center in Hilo and the West Hawaii Mediation Center in Waimea.

The free program, thanks to those funding sponsors,  is designed to bring together landlords and tenants, or mortgage holders and those who have borrowed to buy their houses, and see what solutions can be worked out to avoid evictions while still addressing the need of the landlord or mortgage holder to be compensated.

Julie Mitchell of Ku’ikahi Mediation Center and Eric Paul of the West Hawaii Mediation Center say they have already had calls from both landlords and tenants and are in the process of working with the parties.  Although mediations are usually conducted face-to-face, for now they’re being conducted via video or phone because of the COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions.

To start the process, call West Hawaii Mediation Center at (808) 885-5525 or in East Hawaii, Ku’ikahi Mediation Center at (808) 935-7844.  There is no charge for the services of these organizations for the Landlord-Tenant Mediation.   (No matter what your mediation issue…even if not Landlord-Tenant…you can always call.)

New West Broadcasting’s Sherry Bracken talked with Kehau Costa of the Hawaii Island Realtors Association, Julie Mitchell of Ku’ikahi Mediation Center and Eric Paul of West Hawaii Mediation to understand the need for the Rapid Response Landlord-Tenant Mediation and the process.

To hear the discussion, click here.




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