Lahaina wildfire survivors camp out in tents after temporary housing measures end

The majority of those living in tents along the beach lost everything they owned in the Lahaina wildfire last August, the most devastating natural disaster in Hawaiian history.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Lahaina wildfire survivors are sleeping in tents after being kicked out of temporary housing accommodations, saying they are "insulted" by the US government's lack of help.

The majority of those living in tents along the beach lost everything they owned in the Lahaina wildfire on August 8, 2023, the most devastating natural disaster in Hawaiian history, which destroyed the little town of Maui and killed at least 101 people.

Residents impacted by the wildfires were offered temporary accommodation in hotels soon after the disaster, but many of those arrangements have since expired.

Despite FEMA's offer to rent out properties to fire victims at three times the current rate, the majority of landlords have declined, favoring short-term profits above long-term tenants, the Daily Mail reports.

Footage taken by the Daily Mail shows tents sent up all along Kaanapali Beach, one of Maui's most popular beaches. There are also tents set up along the three-mile stretch of road between Kaanapali Beach and Lahaina. Additionally, tent encampments have formed in Hanakao'o Park and Wahikuli Park.

Those living in tents told the outlet that little is being done to help them find rental homes, saying that they have grown "insulted" by FEMA offering families cash to relocate elsewhere, such as other parts of the Hawaiian Islands and even the mainland US.

This has resulted in Maui residents filing a petition to force Hawaii Governor Josh Green and Lahaiana Mayor Richard Bissen to utilize emergency powers to take control of Airbnbs and turn them into long-term rentals for victims of fires.

The petition also calls for protections for tenants and mortgage deferments for people whose homes burned, but who are still required to make mortgage payments, per the paper.

Kailani, a wildfire victim living in a tent located in the parking lot of Hanakao'o Park, told the Dail Mail that she has begged Mayor Bissen for help and has called on Gov. Green to come personally witness the struggles, but claimed her attempts for help have been unsuccessful.

Maui locals have chastised the Biden administration for failing to provide financial assistance while giving billions of dollars to foreign countries, taxpayer funds that wildfire victims claim are desperately needed.
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