The State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services Rental Assistance program (RAP) is connecting FEMA-ineligible families with long-term rentals listed on Airbnb or through the Hawai’i Fire Relief Housing Program. This program will house FEMA-ineligible survivors of Maui wildfires for up to 12 months
December 1, 2023 (Updated 12/12/23) – Governor Josh Green, M.D., and the State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced the launch of the DHS Rental Assistance Program (RAP) specifically to help survivors of the Maui wildfires who are not eligible for FEMA assistance. With $2.5 million in initial funding, the innovative new RAP will make a significant difference for the many survivors still in need of housing solutions. RAP will work to secure housing for up to 12 months for eligible households by connecting them with Airbnb or through the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) Hawai‘i Fire Relief Housing Program.
The RAP will be facilitated by community-based organization Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) in collaboration with Airbnb, and is designed to work best in Hawai‘i’s unique housing market. For households that move into short-term rentals with less than a six-month minimum duration, DHS and GEM will work to immediately book a consecutive stay to ensure housing over a longer period.
Households that have been identified as FEMA-ineligible and are in need of housing will be contacted by DHS, GEM, or the American Red Cross through the recently launched interim Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP). Once a household is confirmed for the program, DHS and GEM will work quickly to identify potential property options through Airbnb or the HHFDC Hawai‘i Fire Relief Housing Program. Additionally, GEM will provide a food box for each household in the RAP with sufficient food for the first week in their new accommodations.
For Maui Hosts: New listing guidance: Download AirBnB guide PDF
If you have additional questions, or to participate in this program and list with Airbnb, please contact GEM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DHS RAP is being led by the Department of Human Services (DHS), in collaboration with Global Empowerment Mission (GEM). GEM is a non-profit organization that will facilitate this program on behalf of DHS and is the primary point of contact for any inquiries.
Please email email@example.com if you are a survivor interested in this program, or a property owner interested in possibly listing your short-term rental.
Q: Who is eligible for this program?
This rental assistance program is specifically for Maui wildfire survivors who are ineligible for FEMA assistance.
Q: What kind of housing is available?
The RAP will require that properties be conventional housing options, such as a single-family home, condominium, apartment, or similar with connect on to infrastructure. This means no tents/ yurts/ campers/ etc.
• Connect on to county electric grid
• Running water
• Conventional construction
Q: How can you apply?
Households that have been identified as FEMA-ineligible and are in need of housing will be contacted by DHS, GEM, or the American Red Cross through the recently launched interim Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP). If you are a survivor of the Maui wildfires, and believe you are ineligible for FEMA assistance and would like to inquire directly about DHS RAP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Q: What costs are covered? What are the limits on rent amounts?
To ensure that the program is aligned with market needs and sufficient for families in need, the State of Hawai‘i has approved average monthly rates (AMRs) for properties in this program at the following rates:
• 0-1 Bedroom: $5,000/month
• 2 Bedrooms: $7,000/month
• 3 Bedrooms: $9,000/month
• 4 Bedrooms: $11,000/month
NOTE: these are maximum rates, inclusive of all taxes and fees, but these rates are not guaranteed.
Q: What does the program include?
The RAP will help find, book, and pay for housing for Maui wildfire survivors that qualify for this program up to 12 months.
Q: How long will the program be available for?
The RAP will provide housing support for Maui wildfire survivors that qualify for this program for up to 12 months.
Q: How is this program being funded/ how much funding is available?
Funding is provided by the State of Hawaii. Governor Green has allocated an initial $2.5 million in funding for this RAP.
• The DHS RAP program provides funding to target the short-term rental (STR) market.
• While we encourage property owners to participate in this program, please note this program is specifically for the STRs that have not already leased their property to wildfire survivors or other local residents on a long-term basis.
• If you are a STR owner and have do not currently have a tenant in your property on a long-term basis, we encourage you to participate in this program and suggest you list with Airbnb.
• Doing so will greatly streamline the process of matching a survivor with your property and getting them into much needed housing quickly—and afford you as the owner all the protections and benefits of an Airbnb host. Note, Airbnb has agreed to waive its fees for this program.
• Further, listing through Airbnb will also streamline the booking/leasing process. IF you are an STR owner who has already listed your property on the Hawaii Fire Housing Relief site, we encourage you to also list with Airbnb for the DHS RAP.
• Please review the posted .pdf from Airbnb with listing guidance for more information on how to list with Airbnb.
Note the following:
• Short-term rentals are required to pay State of Hawaii General Excise Tax (GET) and Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT). Short term stays are less than six months. If a STR property is booked longer than 180 days, the TAT will not apply.
• The publicized RAP monthly rates are the MAXIMUM price point for STRs located in West Maui, inclusive of all taxes and fees. However, the maximum payment is NOT guaranteed. With free market pricing, listings will compete.
• In pricing your property, we ask you include tax and any additional fees such as for cleaning, parking, or for pet allowances.
• While the response to this program has been overwhelming posi ve, we want to be clear that terminating an existing lease with a Hawaii resident to list your property with this program is unacceptable. All reports of this conduct will be referred to the Department of the Attorney General for follow-up and any appropriate legal action, and those properties will be flagged and ineligible to participate in the DHS RAP un l that follow up is complete.
“Housing is an immediate and highly personal need for the survivors of the Maui wildfires, and particularly households that do not qualify for FEMA support. No one affected by this disaster should be prevented from receiving the assistance they need. I have directed my administration to find creative, flexible ways to help everyone,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “This program is a direct result of this work, and we will continue to evolve and refine our approach to best meet our community’s needs. I am pleased to announce this rental assistance program so that no one is left behind.”
A survivor who was recently placed through this program told the team, “Thank you for the help you have given us, a stable place to stay for six months. I will have my family sleeping in the same place again, and may God bless them.”
“Since the start of the fires, the Airbnb host community has played an important role in relief efforts by offering emergency, short-term stays for residents displaced by the fires,” said Airbnb Public Policy Manager Alex April. “Airbnb is proud to continue supporting Maui’s recovery by working with the state of Hawai‘i and our hosts to offer additional housing for fire survivors.”
“GEM is proud to partner with DHS and work to provide efficient and effective solutions for those most in need,” said Michael Capponi, founder and president of GEM.
“The Department of Human Services is grateful to Governor Green for continuing to prioritize supporting the survivors of the Maui wildfires. This new housing program is a novel way to enable us to help more families find places to live and to recover without having to worry about where they will move next, or high rental costs,” said DHS Deputy Director Trista Speer. “Survivors, especially those that don’t qualify for federal assistance, need the state to step in and the Department of Human Services is proud to offer this help through Governor Green’s leadership and motto for equity.”
Hawai‘i Media Contact:
State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services
Amanda Stevens – Public Information Officer
DHS Maui Recovery Program and Media Contact:
Find all resources for residents and businesses below by exploring the categories right for you.
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.