The state, in partnership with the nonprofit Project Vision Hawai‘i, has opened Puʻuhonua o Nēnē, a temporary shelter for Maui wildfire survivors who were experiencing homelessness before the disaster. The temporary shelter, located at the corner of Hāna Highway and Mayor Elmer F. Carvalho Way in Kahului opened on Friday, Sept. 29, and began welcoming residents. Residents will continue to be transported to Pu’uhonua o Nēnē, or may arrive on their own. Pu’uhonua o Nēnē has a capacity of 150 residents.
State officials report the facility is opening because the non-congregate shelter eligibility requirements only cover people with a verified structural loss from the Lahaina fire. The non-congregate shelter program does not cover families and individuals who were experiencing homelessness pre-disaster.
Governor Josh Green, M.D., made the announcement saying, “It is important that all Maui wildfire survivors have access to the necessary resources to heal. Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is a place survivors can go to receive a wide array of services.”
What’s available at Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē:
Noelani Ahia of the Maui Medic Healers Hui talked about the activities that are available for residents, “What they are going to gain here is community, what they are going to gain here is people to talk story with, people to play music with, movie night, art projects, ag, growing food and building our village.”
Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē is a shelter for adults. The Department of Human Services has worked to secure additional resources to support those families with minor children, and the American Red Cross will allow them to remain in hotels until a housing alternative is identified. Governor Green, DHS and state partners believe that survivors deserve options and agency in choosing their path forward.
The County of Maui, DHS and partners have been working to assess each survivor’s structural loss status using eligibility criteria. Staff continue to work to notify survivors about their eligibility to move to Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē.
The Pu‘uhonua o Nēnē temporary shelter will coordinate wraparound services and help survivors throughout their continuum of healing and restoration.
Maui Medic Healers, Maui Rapid Responders, Na Kia’i O Maui, County of Maui, Hawai’i Department of Transportation, Mālama Maui Nui, Adaptive Maui and many others helped establish Pu’uhonua o Nēnē.
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Lahaina and Kula residents who have been impacted by the August fires are invited to talk story with Mayor Richard Bissen. There are several dates to choose from. Each talk story session will welcome up to 30 residents to give folks a chance to share mana‘o and ask questions.
Series of events from December 9 through January 27.