OHA’s Ka Wailele Fund Offers $1 Million in Aid


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has allocated $1,044,253 to implement an emergency financial assistance program for Native Hawaiians. OHA’s Ka Wailele Emergency Financial Assistance Program is being administered by Hawaiʻi Community Lending (HCL), a Native Hawaiian community development financial institution.

OHA is encouraging Native Hawaiians – who are at least 18 years old and in financial hardship – to review program requirements (see sidebar) and apply.

Ka Wailele will provide grants up to $1,500 for past due rent, mortgage, utilities, and rent deposits to an estimated 520 households that can prove Native Hawaiian ancestry, Hawaiʻi residency, financial hardship, and need for housing and/or utility assistance. Native Hawaiians are limited in receiving OHA emergency financial assistance to one grant every two years.

HCL will process applications, and payments will be made directly to landlords, mortgage lenders, or utility providers. Approved applicants will also have access to financial counseling, additional grants or affordable loans, and career coaching through Financial Opportunity Centers run by HCL’s parent corporation, Hawaiian Community Assets.

“Supporting Native Hawaiian ‘ohana in successfully navigating the challenges they face is integral to the work we do at OHA,” said OHA Ka Pouhana/CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey. “We hope that the emergency financial assistance from OHA will help alleviate some of the stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as connect ‘ohana with other valuable resources that are available to them.”

“We mahalo OHA for their investment in bringing emergency financial assistance to the community at this critical time,” said HCL Executive Director Jeff Gilbreath. “Our organization looks forward to partnering with OHA, Native Hawaiian Trusts, and community members on the ground to ensure these funds help stabilize housing, so we can begin to move families toward economic recovery.”

Native Hawaiians experiencing financial hardship should apply online at www.oha.org/emergencyaid or www.kawailele.org. Persons without internet access or a computer may call HCL at (808) 587-7656 to request a paper application or complete an application over the phone. In-person assistance is available at Financial Opportunity Centers and remote offices statewide.

Ka Wailele Program Requirements

  • Be Native Hawaiian residing in Hawai‘i;
  • At least 18 years old;
  • Be in financial hardship; and
  • Have documents to prove past due rent, mortgage, utilities, or rental deposit

Required Documents

Proof of Age and Hawai‘i Residency

  • Copy of Picture ID

Native Hawaiian Verification (One of the following)

  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • OHA Hawaiian Registry Card
  • Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Lease
  • Kamehameha Schools Ho‘oulu Registry

Proof of Financial Hardship (One of the following)

  • Unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) approval letter
  • Letter from employer verifying you have been laid off or lost hours at work

Housing (One of the following)

  • Complete, signed, dated rental lease
  • Mortgage statement

Assistance Needed (One of the following)

  • Past due rent or eviction notice with amount owed
  • Past-due utility or disconnection notice with amount owed
  • Bill from utility service (i.e., water delivery)
  • Mortgage statement with past-due amount

Learn more at www.oha.org/emergencyaid