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Maui eyes home restoration grant in upcoming budget

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

Inspired by stories of families who have been living in poor conditions, Maui Councilmember Mike Molina has proposed a grant program to help residents restore their homes.

The pilot program, which looks like $270,000 in the way of nine $30,000 grants, would go to one home in each community district on Maui.

“The Department of Housing and Human Concerns would select a house that's uninhabitable,” Molina said Tuesday. “Of course, the property owners would have to qualify, and the grant would be given to them and they can use it for expenses towards the permitting process.”

The program would be part of the county’s upcoming fiscal year budget, which the council is continuing to deliberate this week.

Legislation and further qualification details should come out this summer, but some eligibility requirements will hinge on property ownership.

Molina said he's currently looking at "safeguards" to ensure funding is used properly. One way to ensure that is by requiring homes to be older than 30 years, and that homeowners that own a property for at least 15 years, be required to own it for another 15 or have to pay the $30,000 back.

Molina said he’s seen support from fellow councilmembers, with one sharing the story of their friend who is currently living in a dilapidated home.

“They live in a house, it's rat infested, but they have nowhere else to go, and they don't have the resources to help do some improvements, you know, fixing the roof,” Molina said.

A similar grant program model has been used elsewhere, with participants qualifying based on area median income or AMI, like in Los Angeles.

“We looked at that, and said well, let's try this on Maui as a pilot program,” Molina said. “If it works, then future councils can add more funds. The more funds you have and the more potential grantees could be eligible for this grant.”

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at or 808-792-8252.
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