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Green says large number of Maui fire victims are now in long-term housing

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(The Center Square) – Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said 78% of Maui fire victims who were in non-congregant shelters are now in long-term housing and new funding is on its way.

The governor signed Senate Bill 582 into law, which adds another $362 million to relief efforts.

“The progress made in securing long-term housing for wildfire survivors is a testament to the determination of our state,” Green said. “We will continue working tirelessly to ensure that every survivor has a safe and stable place to call home.”

The bill allocates $297 million to families who were not eligible to receive aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Green’s office.

The One ‘Ohana Fund will receive a $65 million boost. The fund distributes money to families who lost a loved one and suffered severe injuries. An estimated $1.5 million will be distributed, according to a news release. The deadline for applications is May 31.

“Our recovery plan for Maui is not just about building homes in a cost-effective manner; it’s about ensuring that our solutions continue to fully meet the needs of our communities,” Green said.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged in the August fires and 101 people died.

Tourists are beginning to return to Maui, according to the latest figures released this week from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Just over 206,000 people visited Maui in March. While that is still down by 25.5% since last March of 2023 and 24% less than before the pandemic, the number is still hopeful, according to DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka.

“The total visitor arrivals to Maui at 206,049 in March 2024 were the highest since the Maui wildfires,” Tokioka said. “More than 75% of the Maui visitor industry recovered as of March 2024 when compared with pre-wildfire figures.”

March visitor spending on Maui is 24.3% less than in 2023 but 5.9% higher than in March 2019. Visitors spent $469.4 million this year.