As temporary housing deadlines approach, officials look at long-term solutions on Maui
Survivors of the Maui wildfires have until this Friday to sign up for temporary housing through the American Red Cross.
About 2,000 homes in Lāhainā were lost in the Maui wildfires, displacing thousands of individuals. More than 7,200 people are housed across 29 temporary hotels and hundreds more in Airbnbs across Maui.
Many accommodations have been opened through the Red Cross, and state and federal emergency management agencies.
The state has a contract with the Red Cross to house people at least through May 2024.
"In areas where there have been a disaster, (we) initially (begin) working in the congregate or the mass shelters where we've got lots of people, and then we're transitioning them out, in this case to hotel rooms," Diane Peters-Nguyen, regional CEO of the Pacific Islands Region for the Red Cross, said Monday.
The discussions have now shifted to the next phase: longer-term housing options.
Gov. Josh Green has suggested that the number of hotels may be consolidated and people may move into Airbnbs throughout Maui. At these temporary hotel lodgings, the Red Cross, nonprofits and community groups have been providing wrap-around services. That includes everything from meal delivery to medical care.
"We're looking at mental health because we know that around this time in a crisis is when people really start feeling the pressures and stress and even the traumatic effect of everything that's happened," Peters-Nguyen said.
"We're also offering spiritual care, and connecting them with other resources, other agencies that may be able to help them. We've also been providing reunification services if they are not able to locate a loved one."
The deadline to register for Red Cross housing relief is this coming Friday, Sept. 15. That extends to those who left Maui for short-term housing on Oʻahu or other neighbor islands.
"We met a woman the other day, who came to our Diamond Head headquarters, and she had evacuated here," Peters-Nguyen said. "She was trying to figure out how to how to sign up and get to get services."
For those who were homeless before the fires, the state is working to establish kauhale tiny home villages on Maui, though officials haven’t designated sites at this time.
Green said there were about 165 people who were homeless in the region.
"We've been taking care of everybody, (but) those individuals qualify for almost no programs, unfortunately," Green said. "Didn't have housing, they didn't have a rental. So for them, we're going to stand up kauhale."
Land for that will not be in Lāhainā, Green said, but possibly a surrounding area.
"But in and around Lāhainā there may be some need for temporary housing, we can do that," Green said.
Sept. 15 is the last day for survivors to contact the Red Cross with a need for emergency lodging and be entered into the program. The Red Cross can be contacted at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).