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Sunday, October 1, 2023
New Shelter Built to Keep Lahaina Homeless out of Burn Zone
By News Release @ 6:29 PM :: 1619 Views :: Maui County, Homelessness


News Release from Office of the Governor, September 28, 2023

HONOLULU  ̶  Governor Josh Green, M.D., is announcing that the state, in partnership with the nonprofit Project Vision Hawai‘i (PVH), will open Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē, a temporary shelter for Maui wildfire survivors who were experiencing homelessness before the disaster. This temporary shelter will open on Friday, September 29.

The state has a long-standing relationship with Project Vision.. The mobile health and social services provider specializes in bringing essential services directly to access-challenged communities and vulnerable populations across Hawai‘i and in developing countries. PVH set up the first COVID vaccination clinic in Hawai‘i and currently operates the Pūlama Ola Medical Respite Kauhale on O‘ahu. Daily medical and social services at Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē will be provided by PVH staff and partners from I Ola Lāhui and Maui Medics Hui.

“It is important that all Maui wildfire survivors have access to the necessary resources to heal. Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is a place survivors can go to receive a wide array of services,” said Governor Green. “I know Project Vision Hawai‘i will create a safe, welcoming environment that supports recovery, and I appreciate the Department of Human Services and Department of Transportation for their efforts to build this site so quickly,” he said.

“Our team has been working around the clock to set up this temporary shelter,” said Project Vision Hawai‘i Executive Director Darrah Kauhane. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support our state and Maui wildfire survivors at Pu’uhonua o Nēnē with kōkua from our community partners, Maui Rapid Response and Maui Medics Hui. This type of work is a great example of our holistic approach to healing through health, culture, wellness, and acceptance,” she said.

Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is necessary because shelter eligibility requirements cover people with a verified structural loss. They do not cover families and individuals who were experiencing homelessness pre-disaster.

Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is a shelter for adults. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has worked to secure additional resources to support those families with minor children, and the American Red Cross will allow them to remain in hotels until a housing alternative is identified. Governor Green, DHS and state partners believe that survivors deserve options and agency in choosing their path forward.

What’s available at Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē:

  • The site will consist of multiple military-grade tents, that can house a total of approximately 150 people. Each tent will be fully insulated and equipped with cots and other supplies.
  • On-site medical facilities, showers and restrooms will also be included.
  • Meals will be provided.
  • Pets will be welcome.
  • The program will provide transportation for survivors to and from the site, including for medical and other needed appointments.
  • State-funded disaster case managers will work with each individual survivor to develop a recovery plan.

The County of Maui, DHS and partners have been working to assess each survivor’s structural loss status using eligibility criteria. Staff continue to work to notify survivors about their eligibility to move to Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē.

Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is an example of the Maui community coming together to support wildfire survivors. This temporary shelter will coordinate wraparound services and help survivors throughout their continuum of healing and restoration.

For more information call (808) 754-1241, e-mail or visit

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