State briefs for January 8

Catholic Charities Hawaii to launch $6M rent relief program

HONOLULU — Catholic Charities Hawaii announced the launch of a rent relief program for people affected by the pandemic, which will be conducted with state assistance.

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The Rent Assistance and Mediation Program administered by the social service organization will begin accepting applications next week.

The $6 million program is expected to provide assistance to renters who are at risk of eviction after experiencing reduced income, decreased work hours or unemployment because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program will attempt to help tenants avoid eviction by providing payments for unpaid rent and mediation services.

Payments will have a cap of $1,500 per household per month. The organization expects to offer a maximum of up to two months of past due and ongoing rental assistance.

Catholic Charities Hawaii estimates the available funds will cover about 2,000 applications.

The program is funded by a portion of settlement payments from Honda Motor Co. to the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection.

Program applications can be made online, by downloading an electronic form or by requesting a mailed application.

“In dealing with the continual economic fallout from COVID-19, this emergency rental assistance program is meant to keep tenants in their homes and safely sheltered, while ensuring landlords are properly compensated,” Catholic Charities Hawaii CEO and President Rob Van Tassell said.

Kauai Marriott resort to lay off more than 450 employees

LIHUE, Kauai — The Marriott Beach Club on Kauai laid off more than 450 employees across departments within the hotel, which is undergoing a change in ownership.

The layoffs include housekeepers, banquet servers, laundry attendants and pool servers.

“Business levels have been profoundly affected by the pandemic and continue to determine operational and staffing adjustments,” resort spokesperson Lucy Slosser said.

The resort closed from April to October because of the coronavirus pandemic, temporarily furloughing employees and reducing work hours.

Essex House Condominium Corporation, operating as the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, is expected to cease operations in March.

In a Dec. 31 letter to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, hotel General Manager Paul Toner said Massachusetts-based Sonesta Beach Resort LP will take over as the resort’s new operator.

Art Gillespie, president of the Kauai Beach Club Owners Association and the Association of Apartment Owner, said in a letter that Sonesta will manage the hotel as a Royal Sonesta property.

Services Properties Trust, owner of the 232-room hotel, terminated its agreement in October with Marriott International for 122 hotels in more than 30 states after Marriott could not meet its payments.

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State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations statistics show the property is the fourth-largest employer on Kauai.

The resort’s hotel and timeshare properties are separately operated and negotiations are ongoing between Sonesta and Marriott Vacation Club.

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