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Money Continues To Pour In For Maui’s Recovery [Civil Beat]

More than $494 million in relief funds for Maui has been pledged in the form of government assistance, private donations and nonprofit efforts since the Aug. 8 fires in Lahaina. A Civil Beat analysis of different programs and fundraisers found that federal and state government agencies had committed $194 million, and non-governmental groups have raised $300 million as of Sept. 10. The overall total is certainly higher as several organizations were still calculating their expenditures and numbers are subject to change daily. The government side of the ledger does not reflect a newly authorized $100 million federal block grant for relief assistance and a business grant proposal floated by Gov. Josh Green.

The recently announced $95 million in new funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is included in the Sept. 10 total. That will be channeled into temporary housing, services and meals for affected residents.

Sen. Brian Schatz said Sunday the FEMA money covers the 90% federal cost share for Maui fire recovery through November.

FEMA has already dispersed $21.5 million for individual and household assistance made up of $10.4 million in housing assistance and over $11 million in other needs assistance for daily expenditures.

For the 2018 Camp Fire in California that killed 85 people, FEMA provided $228 million in assistance, USA Today reported; the equivalent of $275 million in 2023.

Other federal contributions to Maui recovery include:
U.S. Small Business Administration approved $45 million in disaster loans for residents, homeowners and businesses, with a $100,000 cap for homeowners and renters for personal property, and up to $500,000 to repair or replace their primary dwelling.
• U.S. Department of Labor awarded $10.5 million for temporary disaster jobs and direct relief.
• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $1.3 million for its Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing program that bridges funding gaps to keep people from being homeless.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ trustees committed $5 million for survivors, and $2 million has been separately distributed in partnership with Global Empowerment Mission in the form of Airbnb housing vouchers.

Complementing government funding has been a stampede of nonprofits and private charitable assistance that pulled together, at least on paper, $300 million in 30 days. The details of when and how much of that assistance will reach survivors are still to be determined.

Perhaps the most visible charitable source is GoFundMe, which reported that $55 million has been donated by over 330,000 people for various fire-related funds. Those donations are usually in the hands of intended recipients within five business days, their regional spokesperson said.

The Salvation Army has raised $6.4 million for immediate and long-term projects, and is assessing the area to direct its funds to programs that will have a high impact. Similarly, the local Catholic Charities affiliate received $1 million from its national organization, according to a spokesperson. That money is intended for critical needs, long-term health concerns and reconstruction.

A number of organizations have created grants, direct cash assistance and loan programs.

  • As of Sept. 6 The Maui Strong Fund had raised over $104 million, with over $17 million in grants distributed by the Hawaii Community Foundation so far to dozens of nonprofit organizations.
  • The Council on Native Hawaiian Affairs’ $7 million Kakoʻo Maui Fund, has distributed $400,000 of that to aid groups.
  • Maui United Way has raised $7 million which goes towards one-off $1,000 payments for up to five adults in a household. It has made payments to 5,000 people, with another 2,000 waiting, and it has provided 18 grants to multiple fire relief groups.
  • Hawaii Community Lending has raised over $680,000 with a goal of $6.5 million, to provide disaster relief with consumer-friendly loans. While $1.5 million will go to overhead, the rest will be kept as a lendable disaster fund to maintain Native Hawaiian land ownership.

Goodwill Hawaii raised $450,000 for vouchers and expanded relief services. So far $60,000 worth of $100 vouchers have been supplied to adults affected by the fires, with a $400 maximum per household.

A representative for Hawaii Food Bank said the nonprofit had raised over $1 million in donations for relief. While the Maui Food Bank — a separate entity from Hawaii Food Bank — did not give a dollar amount for donations, executive director Rich Yust said the food bank has provided more than a million pounds of food items since the wildfire, which is four times their monthly average.

Green told participants at a Sept. 5 for businesses impacted by the wildfires that the state had contracted $99 million through the American Red Cross to temporarily house people for four weeks. The Red Cross said it could not comment on funds received from government or other agencies, but that as of Aug. 27 it had provided $1.2 million in financial assistance to survivors for everyday essentials.

A Hope Chapel Maui employee confirmed it has provided financial assistance, but likewise did not clarify the total amount raised or distributed.

Multiple celebrities have also pledged financial support for survivors.

Last month Jeff Bezos’ partner Lauren Sanchez announced the couple would dedicate $100 million toward a Maui Fund. However, they have not yet elaborated how or when that money will be available.

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, a professional fighter, raised $2.6 million through her Na Wahine Toa Foundation. The fund is now being overseen by Maui organizer Tiare Lawrence.

See full article at Civil Beat. photo Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023

Hawai‘i Community Lending
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