Release: Over 1,000 residents urge governor and legislature to get remaining $320M of federal relief funds to families who need it

HONOLULU, September 15, 2020 — With the state running out of time to spend $320 million in federal relief funds, more than 1,000 residents signed a petition with an urgent request: Use those funds to provide relief to children and families now.

“I recently got laid off, and it’s really hard right now,” said Brieahna Martin, an Ewa Beach resident who signed the petition. “I hurt a lot because I feel like I’m not doing my part as a family member. Knowing that the state has that money and that they could help us, the community — it would be good for us who are struggling out here due to the pandemic.”

Although the Legislature passed a plan to spend the state’s share of CARES Act relief funds, Governor Ige vetoed half of the allocations in July. State leaders haven’t announced a new plan for the remaining $320 million, despite the ongoing economic crisis and the December 30, 2020 federal deadline to spend the funds.

In response, the Hawaiʻi Working Families Coalition organized a petition with recommendations for the funds, including restoring unemployment “plus up” payments of $100 per week and funding health insurance subsidies, community health centers, food assistance, benefits for immigrants, and broadband internet for students. 

“Channeling these funds to families’ basic needs isn’t just the right thing to do,” said Gavin Thornton, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. “This would help our entire community by supporting local businesses, preventing evictions and foreclosures, alleviating the impacts of unemployment and stay-at-home orders, and ensuring that working parents can get back to work.”

The Working Families Coalition sent the petition and its 1,073 signatures to Governor Ige this morning.

“Hawaiʻi’s struggling families literally can’t afford to wait any longer for relief,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “We’re still constantly hearing from people who can’t pay their rent and put food on the table. Meanwhile, the state has hundreds of millions of dollars in unused relief funds, and just 106 days to spend it all.”


Contact: Ryan Catalani
[email protected]
(808) 531-5502 ext. 4

Read the Working Families Coalition’s letter to Governor Ige and the original petition: 

Families affected by the COVID-19 crisis, along with representatives from the Working Families Coalition, are available for media interviews.

About the Working Families Coalition: The Working Families Coalition is a diversified group of 30+ nonprofit organizations, academia, unions and community advocates fighting for Hawaiʻi’s families through policy, advocacy, and education. For more information, visit