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Hawaiʻi Workers Center shines light on housing issues impacting some Lahaina wildfire survivors : Maui Now


The Hawaiʻi Workers Center, a grassroots organization focused on the well-being of workers held a press conference in Lahaina last week in the hopes of tacking housing issues impacting wildfire survivors.

In the February 29 gathering at Kelawea Mauka Makai Park, those directly impacted shared issues ranging from the lack of information regarding mortgage forbearance and FEMA appeals to ongoing evictions despite protections in place.

The groups highlighted the plight of working class families from Lahaina that are contemplating leaving Maui due to the current challenges. Among the organizations joining the Hawaiʻi Workers Center were community groups Kaibigan Ng Lahaina, Hawaiʻi Community Lending, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.

Sieny Corpuz, a survivor of the August fires, represented Kaibigan Ng Lahaina, a community group focused on providing a voice and space for the Filipino community in the rebuild, encouraged families to stay in Lahaina despite the challenges. She said the group is committed to rebuilding and providing a space where families can thrive “socially, economically, politically and culturally.”


Krizhna Bayudan, a community organizer for the Hawaiʻi Workers Center and whose own family survived the August wildfire, revisited reports of residents being displaced to accommodate FEMA’s fire survivors.

“This is fundamentally unjust. It’s a mere shuffling of problems without addressing the root causes. We all know Lahaina is grappling with a severe housing shortage and it’s disheartening to see our fellow community members facing eviction,” said Bayudan. She said language accessibility is a barrier, resulting in delays and deterring immigrant communities from seeking assistance.

Kami Yamamoto, representing the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, said she spoke with community members at Filipino resource events, who were denied by FEMA and did not know they could appeal the decision.


One survivor, Gerry Tupas, a Lahaina tenant and Filipino immigrant, shared that he was still paying rent to his landlord for three months even though his family was living in a hotel.

Lexy Gorgonio from Hawaiʻi Community Lending reminded the community about forbearance protections for federally backed mortgages. Homeowners can contact www.hawaiicommunitylending.com and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi at www.legalaidhawaii.org for more information about mortgage forbearance, tenants’ rights, and appealing FEMA denials.

Source: Maui News

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