A newly-launched Host Housing Support Program will provide monthly stipends of up to $1,500 to eligible households who are providing shelter to individuals and families displaced by the Maui wildfires.
The program provides eligible households $375 for each displaced individual housed. The money goes directly to the host family and is capped at $1,500 per host household.
“There’s a lot of folks already doing this,” said Kūhiō Lewis, CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement during a Tuesday morning press conference at the County Building in which partners announced the pilot program. According to Lewis, more than 25% of displaced residents who have sought help at the CNHA’s Kakoʻo Maui Resource Center have indicated that they are currently staying with friends or family.
Lewis said he hopes the program provides some immediate stability to host families so they can buy added food and help cover the added expense of taking in displaced residents. He’s also hopeful that the compensation will result in more housing options for wildfire survivors.
Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. said the number one thing the program does is it keeps people with family and friends. “What we intend to do is encourage our community to assist in our families transitioning out of hotels,” he said.
Mayor Bissen said many host families offered their homes without expecting anything in return. “The idea here is to create or to foster the aloha spirit and the camaraderie that’s already existing in our community. I think the number one thing it does is keeps people with family and friends—people they are familiar with in most cases. But this program can be used by anyone in our community,” he said.
The program is available statewide under a six month $4 million commitment made under a pilot partnership between the County of Maui, American Red Cross and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, which will administer the the program.
“In the face of the devastating wildfires, our community has stepped up to ‘mālama’ (care for) others. They have provided shelter for those who have lost everything. This program honors those who have shown ‘aloha’ and embraced the ‘kuleana’ to ‘mālama’ others while encouraging them to continue their aloha,” Lewis said in a joint press release.
The Aug. 8, 2023, wildfires in Maui left thousands of individuals displaced.
The Red Cross currently has more than 7,000 individuals that are being accommodated through the non-congregate shelter program. More than 2,500 families had established full eligibility for non-congregate sheltering as of Monday morning, Oct. 2, up from about 2,200 families on Friday, Sept. 29, the Red Cross reported.
“During the last couple of days we have transitioned approximately about 120 households out of the shelter care,” said Dave Gutierrez, National Incident Command Team, Senior Director for the American Red Cross.
He said approximately another 190 households don’t necessarily meet the criteria to stay in the non congregate shelter program.
To be eligible, people must have:
- Been residents of the area impacted by the fire before the disaster
- Been an owner/renter or a household member of an owner/renter in the affected area
- Resided in a home that was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the disaster.
Gutierrez said that of those 190 families identified, the Red Cross is hoping to meet with them this week to determine how to help and navigate their next steps. He said some of those families will meet criteria to stay. Some individuals are already being accommodated at other programs like the temporary tent shelter at Puʻuhonua o Nēnē in Kahului which was assisting 70 individuals at last report.
Amanda Ree, director of wildfire long-term recovery programs for the American Red Cross, said, “No one organization can possibly meet the multitude of needs created by the impact of such a destructive disaster. We are honored to work collaboratively with the County of Maui, CNHA, and HCF to support the people of Maui and embrace a community-led recovery. Strong partnerships like these enhance our collective ability to offer a wide range of vital recovery services.”
Host households can use the financial assistance to cover additional costs like rent, utilities, groceries, household improvements and other necessities.
Interested applicants are encouraged to apply at CNHA’s Kāko‘o Maui Resource Hub located at Maui Mall in Kahului or apply online at www.HawaiianCouncil.org/HostFamily. Applicants can also contact CNHA at 808-596-8155.
Host households must meet the following criteria for participation in the program:
- Resident of the State of Hawaiʻi hosting a family/individual(s) affected by the Maui wildfires
- Must provide address of family/individual(s) whose home was damaged by the Maui wildfires
- Must pass a Housing Quality Standard inspection
- Comply with monthly assessments of applicant qualifications
- Impacted family or individual must certify that they are living with the host
“This program reinforces the values of aloha that continues to be the hallmark of our community. The kindness shown by hosting families who have taken in those in great need deserve our support as well,” said Mayor Bissen.