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  4. A woman moved to Florida after her home burned in the Lahaina fires, and the cheapest Maui rental she could find was $10,000 a month

A woman moved to Florida after her home burned in the Lahaina fires, and the cheapest Maui rental she could find was $10,000 a month

Kelsey Vlamis   

A woman moved to Florida after her home burned in the Lahaina fires, and the cheapest Maui rental she could find was $10,000 a month
  • The fires in Maui, Hawaii, displaced 6,200 families, many of whom are still looking for housing.
  • Some locals have left the state altogether, while others are desperate to stay in their communities.

When the fires in Maui, Hawaii, tore through the historic town of Lahaina in August 2023, 6,200 families were suddenly homeless, left to scramble for long-term housing through the sea of short-term rentals that have proliferated on the island.

Amy Chadwick, a Lahaina resident whose home burned in the fire, told The Associated Press she wasn't able to find housing in Maui that worked for her family for less than $10,000 a month. Instead, Chadwick and her family moved to Satellite Beach, Florida.

"You're pushing out an entire community of service industry people. So no one's going to be able to support the tourism that you're putting ahead of your community," Chadwick, who works as a server at a fine-dining establishment, told AP. "Nothing good is going to come of it unless they take a serious stance, putting their foot down and really regulating these short-term rentals."

Other residents who lost their Lahaina homes in the August 8 fire are still in temporary housing more than eight months later.

Shannon I'i, who lost her home in the fire, told Hawaii outlet KITV that her family is among the hundreds who are still living in a hotel.

"It is rough," she told the outlet. "But we do what we have to do to survive."

I'i said her family was recently told they'll have to move out, so they are again looking for housing, but they don't want to have to move away. "To be able to stay on west side of Maui with our community, that is the most important thing for me," she told KITV.

Vacation rentals that cater to tourists and can cost hundreds of dollars per night have long been a problem in Maui, but the Lahaina fires and displacement of thousands of families exacerbated the issue and made it more visible. State lawmakers are weighing a bill that would give counties across Hawaii the ability to phase out short-term rentals.

"There are about 7,000 short term rental units on Maui in apartment zoning and 2,200 are in West Maui," Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, a Maui city councilwoman, told KITV. "It would immediately provide housing for those folks who want to stay in West Maui, which is the majority of our folks looking for housing right now."

Gov. Josh Green has said he would sign the bill, SB 2919, if it passes the state legislature. The bill has been championed by Lahaina Strong, an advocacy group for the Maui wildfire survivors.

"We've helped change that conversation of 'build build build' to now, 'What about the inventory we already have?'" Paele Kiakona, a member of Lahaina Strong, told Hawaii News Now.

"On top of keeping people here and making it more affordable, we've potentially opened up an avenue to bring our people back," Kiakona added.



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