Hawaii Governor Josh Green once again threatened to shut down all short-term vacation rentals in West Maui if enough property owners don’t step forward to house displaced residents from the Lahaina Wildlife.
“If not enough partners step forward to join us as we approach March 1st, I will be forced to declare a moratorium on all short-term rentals in West Maui, until we find enough housing for the displaced families,” Green said Monday at a State of State address.
The State is in need of about 3,000 housing units willing to offer an 18-month long-term lease. As of this writing, thousands of families are still living in hotels and other short-term accommodations, without a vision of their future.
Back in December, Green sounded off on the lack of available and affordable housing options on Maui (and Hawaii in general) and made a similar threat. At the time, he said he might shut down short-term vacation rentals as soon as January if housing needs were not met.
Now, it looks like Green will give vacation rental owners a bit more time to “make the right decision.”
“There are 27,000 short-term rental units on Maui alone, and if we can dedicate just 10% of these homes to displaced Lahaina families, we can house them all,” Green said. “This is the right thing to do, and I urge you to join us.”
Though the State is willing to offer competitive rental rates to long-term leasers, many owners of short-term housing units have thus far been unmotivated to make the switch. Reasons vary, from financial to personal.
To make things worse, a new problem has developed since Green’s initial threat back in December.
According to Civil Beat, some landlords on Maui are attempting to oust their current renters and replace them with fire victims, who come with a more lucrative rent subsidy from the government. Obviously, this sort of situation solves one problem while creating another.
If Green holds true on this new threat, the short-term vacation rental scene may change drastically on Maui this spring, which could also have other unintended impacts, such as increased rates for the remaining rental units as well as hotel rooms due to reduced supply.
While not ideal, Hawaii has limited options when it comes to solving its housing crisis. Green’s goal is to house all remaining fire victims by July 1st. Many families have already chosen to relocate from Maui to another island or to the mainland due to a lack of affordable housing options.