If you’re struggling to deal with the basic necessities of life, where can you go for help? Here are some links for anyone who is facing the multiple challenges of being unemployed, putting food on the table, and finding childcare and medical coverage. The state Department of Human Services, which has already approved thousands of requests, is averaging a two-day processing time.
For SNAP, Medicaid and other assistance? Struggling families and individuals are urged to apply online at https://humanservices.hawaii.gov/ and let officials figure out applicant eligibility. During an April 14 Facebook Live “Community Connection” session, Governor Ige and Pankaj Bhanot, director of the Department of Human Services, described a variety of assistance, child care services (especially for essential workers), and other resources for families under stress. Many of the requirements have been waived by federal agencies and under the governor’s executive order to make it easier for people to get assistance. For child care services, community and essential workers can go to the DHS site for a list of available child care providers. Look for the yellow banner on the home page. The state’s Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL) has a new website for families with young children. The site includes child care resources and how to apply for child care subsidies. Go to https://sites.google.com/eoel.hawaii.gov/covid-19/home.
Need other emergency food aid? The Hawaii Foodbank has a listing under “programs” with a schedule of food distribution sites on O‘ahu and contacts for food banks on the neighbor islands. They are also partnering with the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau to provide fresh produce and meat from across the state. Foodbank CEO Ron Mizutani said they usually distribute nearly 1 million pounds of food every month, but he expects that demand to nearly double. To make a donation or participate in a virtual food drive, visit www.hawaiifoodbank.org or call 836-3600. Seniors receiving lunches as part of the Show Aloha Challenge home meal delivery program will soon be offered dinner service, too. To sign up for Show Aloha Challenge lunch and/or dinner delivery, call St. Francis Healthcare System at (808) 547-6501.
Domestic abuse prevention: Contact the Department of Health hotline via text at 605-956-5680 or call 808-531-3371 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During non-office hours, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24-7 at 1-800-799-7233. Dial 911 if it’s an emergency. Feeling stressed or depressed? If you need extra support, the Hawai‘i Department of Health has expanded its 24-hour Crisis Line. Call 1 (800) 753-6879, or text the word ALOHA to 741741. The state has another crisis hotline that’s also available 24/7, with professionals who specialize in helping people cope with crisis. If you live on O‘ahu, call 832-3100. On the neighbor islands call 1-800-753-6879. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
Worried about losing health insurance coverage? You can apply for coverage at the online federal health insurance marketplace at www.healthcare.gov, or call (800) 318-2596. You may qualify for subsidies to help reduce your monthly premium cost and out-of-pocket expenses such as co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles. The amount of subsidy you are eligible for is based on your income and household size. You may also qualify for coverage through Medicaid by applying with the Med-QUEST Division of the Hawaii Department of Human Services. Visit medical.mybenefits.hawaii.gov to create an online account and submit an application anytime, 24/7. If you are already on Medicaid, rest assured that your health care coverage will continue throughout this crisis.