Maui Summit Advances Conversation On Homelessness
In what is becoming an annual event in an effort to tackle homelessness on Maui, the REALTOR® Association of Maui (RAM), in partnership with the Governor’s Office, Maui County and the Maui Homeless Alliance as well as other social service agencies, hosted the third Maui County Landlord Summit in July.
The idea behind the summit was to further educate property owners and landlords on how they can help reduce homelessness by making more rentals available to the people who need them most.
“Housing is difficult for many Maui families. By working with landlords and the multitude of agencies gathering at the Maui County Landlord Summit, we hope to help some of these families find a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Maui has a severe housing shortage, and as leaders on housing issues, the Realtors Association of Maui feels it is our duty to raise awareness, educate others and help find solutions,” said RAM Government Affairs Director Lawrence Carnicelli. “Housing is difficult for many Maui families. By working with landlords and the multitude of agencies gathering at the Maui County Landlord Summit, we hope to help some of these families find a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Finding safe and affordable housing on Maui is difficult for many low-income or homeless individuals and families. Many families are approved for a subsidized housing program through a local nonprofit or have a voucher through Section 8, however, they still have a hard time renting a property because landlords tend to reject their rental applications.
RAM’s goal this year was to help eliminate the stigma of the county’s Section 8 program as well as other support services, to make property owners and landlords more comfortable with accepting rental applications from these families who have vouchers or subsidized housing approval.
Hawaii’s Homeless Count Decreases
This year’s summit began with some encouraging news from Emma Grochowsky on behalf of Scott Morishige, the governor’s coordinator on homelessness. For the second year in a row, she said, Hawaii’s homeless count has decreased statewide, according to the Point-in-Time count survey conducted by Bridging the Gap and Partners in Care, a homelessness coalition. The survey found that there was a nearly 10 percent decrease in homeless individuals statewide—from 7,220 in 2017 to 6,530 in 2018.
The announcement was followed by a series of moderated panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions featuring legal experts, landlords, tenants and representatives from agencies that provide financial support and other services to Maui’s housing-challenged residents.
In addition, RAM had a Fair Housing presentation and the Summit featured a trade show, remarks from guest speakers, and panel discussions featuring landlords, tenants and representatives from agencies that provide financial support and other services to Maui’s housing-challenged residents.
Participants in this year’s Maui County Landlord Summit included RAM, the Office of the Governor, Office of the Mayor, Maui County Department of Housing and Human Concerns, Maui Homeless Alliance, Legal Aid Society, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Family Life Center, Catholic Charities of Hawaii and Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.
“This may be only one step, but we, as an organization, are trying to do everything we can,” Carnicelli said. “Maui is a small community—and one big ohana.”
Sarah Ruppenthal of the Maui Times contributed to this report.