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​Nearly 5,000 Maui fire victims remain in hotels
By Selected News Articles @ 7:46 PM :: 1213 Views :: Maui County

Nearly 5,000 Maui fire victims remain in hotels

by Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square, Feb 9, 2024

Nearly 5,000 people are still in need of long-term housing six months after the Maui fires, according to Hawaii Gov. Josh Green.

To date, 7,796 people have been moved into housing through the American Red Cross non-congregate sheltering program, but 4,961 more people remain in hotels, the governor said.

“We have secured 2,367 long-term rentals to house our people,” said Green. “There is still a need for an additional 500 units to fully house survivors of the wildfires, but we are well on track to secure housing for our people.”

On Thursday, Green and Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen met with officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to discuss long-term recovery needs where housing emerged as a continuing priority.

Approximately 9,806 people were displaced after the Maui fires that destroyed over 3,900 properties, according to the governor’s office. Officials have listed the death toll at 97.

Bob Fenton, chief federal response coordinator and FEMA Region IX administrator, set a goal of moving 1,500 fire survivors out of hotels and into better temporary housing. So far, FEMA’s Direct Lease program has moved over 160 households into temporary housing and found 1,500 leased properties for survivors, according to Fenton.

“In the long days, weeks, and months that follow a disaster, housing is one of the most pressing needs," said Marion McFadden, HUD principal secretary for community planning and development. "Whether it’s helping HUD-assisted households, ensuring homeowners have the flexibility they need to rebuild or providing emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness through our RUSH grant funding, HUD is committed to working alongside our federal and local partners to support Maui's recovery."

Meanwhile, the SBA has provided over $290 million in loans to small business owners, nonprofits, homeowners and renters impacted by the fires.

“We know there is still a long road ahead to economic recovery, and the SBA stands ready to work alongside federal, state, local, and private partners to ensure all of the communities impacted can reimagine and rebuild leveraging the full resources of the SBA,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman.

Efforts are also underway to provide a temporary replacement for the King Kamehameha III Elementary School, which was destroyed in the fire. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a $53.7 million project, which is expected to open for classes for up to 600 students in April, according to the governor’s office. 

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