Skip to main content

HUD Announces New Aid For Maui, Native Hawaiians

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of new relief measures for residents of the state of Hawaii.

One measure is targeted specifically for the island of Maui — which endured a devastating wildfire last year that destroyed the town of Lahaina — while the other is designed to expand rental assistance for Native Hawaiians residing on the islands.

HUD awarded $6.9 million in Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) funding to the state, which is designed to “address the needs of individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have needs not otherwise served or fully met by existing Federal disaster relief programs,” the department announced on Feb. 9.

The announcement was made by Marion McFadden, HUD principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and development, as she was touring the island of Maui.

“This additional funding is a second allocation awarded to help communities in Maui recover in the wake of the devastating wildfires,” the announcement stated. “HUD provided $1.3 million in RUSH funding in August 2023.”

On Monday, HUD announced additional relief in the form of rental assistance to Native Hawaiian families under the department’s Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant (NHHBG) program.

NHHBG funds can be used for project- or tenant-based rental assistance, as well as maintenance of project units occupied by Native Hawaiian families, “rather than only those units developed with NHHBG funds,” the announcement stated. “The amendments also help to ensure compliance with the NHHBG program’s statutory requirements and promote consistency between NHHBG and HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant program regulations where the programs’ statutory requirements overlap.”

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge added that this program aims to recognize the housing challenges that Native Hawaiians may face that are unique to their situations.

“We are committed to supporting Hawaiian communities with quality, affordable housing, especially low-income Native Hawaiian families who reside on the Hawaiian Home Lands and often face significant housing challenges,” Fudge said. “Expanding the availability of affordable and accessible housing options will enable Native Hawaiians to maintain their housing and ensure benefits for future generations.”

Hawaii residents face unique housing challenges. In the immediate aftermath of the Maui wildfires, locals expressed serious concerns related to the redevelopment of fire-affected areas, which could drastically reshape housing and the associated costs.

Some locals expressed reluctance to talk to opportunistic real estate agents who offered to buy fire-affected properties, according to a report in The Washington Post this past August. Even before the crisis, locals and Native Hawaiians risked displacement from rising property prices as the state has the highest cost of living in the U.S. A family of four earning less than $93,000, for example, is considered low income in Hawaii.

No Comments yet!