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Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D) has issued a warning to out-of-state homeowners in Maui, urging them to convert their vacation rentals into long-term housing for victims of the recent devastating wildfires.

During a press conference, Governor Green announced his readiness to use emergency orders as a “hammer” to compel the conversion of short-term tourist rentals into long-term units, aiding those displaced by the August wildfires that nearly obliterated the town of Lahaina and claimed 100 lives.

Green specified that this legal action would be a last resort only if homeowners do not voluntarily participate in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program. This program offers financial incentives, compensating homeowners for the difference between short-term and long-term rental rates. Additionally, Maui County is contemplating tax breaks for homes enrolled in the program. “So there is no reason at all for people not to take this opportunity provided they want to be a helpful part of the solution,” said Green..

Approximately 6,300 individuals remain homeless due to the wildfires, and the state’s goal is to convert around 3,000 short-term rentals to meet their housing needs. With an estimated 13,000 to 25,000 short-term rentals on the island, Green highlighted, “So we really only need to get about 10 percent, maybe 12 percent, of all the available short-term units on Maui.” The interim housing arrangement is expected to last about two years, with FEMA funding the first 2,000 units and the remaining 1,000 being supported by state and philanthropic efforts.


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