The above videos include interviews with landlords, service providers, and prospective tenants in Hawaii, as well as community presentations, which describe the important role that landlords can play in working to end homelessness in Hawaii. To find out more information, and learn how you can help, please contact the Office of the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness at (808) 586-0193 or by e-mail at [email protected] and you will be connected to a housing program in your community.
Why is Landlord Engagement an important community issue?
Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released 70,000 Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHVs) nationwide, including over-700 throughout Hawaii.
The number of EHVs anticipated for Hawaii include nearly-500 on the island of Oahu, administered by the City & County of Honolulu and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.
EHVs will be targeted to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, as well as recently homeless individuals and families or those at imminent risk of homelessness.
In addition to the EHVs, there are numerous other housing subsidy programs that are currently available, or expected to soon be available, in Hawaii – including Rapid Rehousing, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, vouchers through the Rent to Work program, and rental subsidies for households assisted through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families (TAONF).
Collectively, EHVs and other housing subsidy programs could make a major impact on reducing homelessness and housing instability statewide.
The Statewide eviction moratorium ended in early August 2021, so there is a need to engage landlords to assist individuals and families who may be displaced and are in need of rehousing.
Act 57 (2021) was passed by the Hawaii State Legislature to provide one year of certain protections for those continuing to struggle to keep up with rent as the state transitions out of the pandemic emergency, including a mandated option of mediation for situations of eviction for non-payment of rent. These protections will end in early August 2022.
A shortage of landlords willing to accept available housing subsidies could be a large barrier that may result in millions of dollars in EHVs and other subsidies being unused or left on the table if we are unable to engage landlords in the critical work to end homelessness.
In addition, without the assistance of landlords stepping forward, many local families may not be able to secure new housing – despite available government resources available for rehousing efforts.
What are examples of some common barriers facing potential renters wanting to access EHVs or other housing subsidy programs?
A big challenge facing potential renters statewide is the wording in many rental listings that clearly state “No Section 8” or “No Vouchers.”
While advertisements prohibiting Section 8 and other housing subsidies are common, this practice is currently not illegal.
In addition, prohibitions against Section 8 and other housing subsidies often masks other forms of discrimination that are illegal, such as discrimination related to family composition, gender, sexual orientation, race, and other protected categories.
These practices exclude prospective tenants with housing vouchers from applying and being screened based on their tenancy qualifications like any other prospective tenant.
Act 310 (2022) will prohibit discrimination in certain circumstances based on participation in any Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program or any Permanent Supportive Housing program. While the discrimination prohibition will not apply to all landlords or all rental assistance programs, this protection that goes into effect on May 1, 2023 will help house more of our most vulnerable households.
Is there support currently available to landlords that are willing to accept a housing subsidy?
Yes. Homeless service providers that offer Housing First or Rapid Rehousing assistance provide case management and other supportive services, including damage guarantees, for landlords who participate in their program. On Oahu, Partners in Care’s Landlord Engagement Program provides 24-hour phone line support, as well as other incentives to landlords to relax the application of screening criteria to participating households, ensuring that complaints and concerns will be responded to and providing assistance if a client damages a unit.
Advocate for changes in Hawaii law to implement policies prohibiting discrimination against those receiving housing subsidies – also known as Source of Income Discrimination – Today, 16 states and over 90 local municipalities have already enacted Source of Income discrimination laws.