State renews call for homeowners to help house Maui wildfire survivors
More than 500 Maui families who lost their homes in the devastating Aug. 8 wildfires are again in permanent housing throughout Hawaiʻi, but thousands of displaced families are still languishing in temporary shelters.
Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green and the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp., which administers the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing Program, are renewing their call for the state’s homeowners to help.
“We are grateful for the empathy and generosity that many Hawaiʻi homeowners displayed by providing safe and secure havens for those most affected by the tragedy in Lāhainā,” said Green. “But we still need many other property owners to step up to the plate to offer longer-term housing opportunities for those who need it.”
As of today, the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing Program reports that 575 surviving families had been placed: 410 on Maui, 107 on Oʻahu, 44 on Hawaiʻi Island and eight on Kauaʻi. Six were placed out of state.
The purpose of the program is to gather a list of homeowners from throughout Hawaiʻi willing to assist by offering unoccupied rooms, units or houses to those in need. After staff with the state housing corporation confirm the information and validate the available units, they are placed on a searchable list and interactive map for Maui wildfire survivors to see.
The list and map are available on the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp. website and are updated daily.
“This is a critical time as many survivors seek to transfer out of temporary housing into more stable, longer-term living arrangements as they try to regain some normalcy and routine to their lives,” said Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp. Executive Director Dean Minakami. “If you have an available extra room, ʻohana unit or accessory dwelling unit or a vacation rental, please consider helping.”
Minakami recommends those offering properties to maintain the rental arrangements for a minimum of 18 months.
The Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp. does not provide any financial support to property owners or renters. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay fair market rent for fire survivors. FEMA also established a Maui Direct Lease Program in which the agency rents properties directly, for a period of time, provided they are available through a registered property management company.
The HOST Housing Support Program also was created by the nonprofit Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and Maui County, with funding from the American Red Cross and the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. Homeowners who become “host families” can receive financial assistance of up to $375 per month for each person they assist, up to $1,500.
More information about the above programs can be found on the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing web page.
The Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corp.’s primary mission is to advance affordable housing opportunities for the people of Hawaiʻi. Click here for more information.