Maui News

Community Needs Survey launched to better understand causes of poverty in Maui County

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Maui Economic Opportunity on Moloka‘i distributes food once a month to residents in need. The nonprofit is currently disseminating a survey, a beginning step in developing a Community Needs Assessment and Plan of Action for the next three years. PC: Maui Economic Opportunity

Maui Economic Opportunity has begun circulating a survey on the causes of poverty in Maui County to be used in the development of a Community Needs Assessment and Action Plan that the nonprofit generates every three years.

As a Community Action Partnership nonprofit, one of hundreds established in communities nationwide to battle poverty, MEO is required to create the Needs Assessment and Action Plan every three years – with the last plan drawn up in 2020. 

In the last assessment, the areas of concern included “cost of living, homeless support, drug abuse, mental illness and physical disability support, health care costs, a culture of a life of poverty, affordable quality child care and divorce/feminization,” according to the organization.


“We encourage our Maui County community, including on Lana‘i and Moloka‘i, to participate in identifying critical needs and concerns in the county by filling out our survey,” said MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe. “This is the critical first step in creating an action plan to assist our residents in need.”

Based on the four-page survey and the Action Plan, the 57-year-old nonprofit will align its more than 40 programs and develop new ones if needed to tackle the top concerns of low income and other disenfranchised residents of Maui County, according to Cabebe.

The next steps in developing the Action Plan include reviewing the surveys, forming and taking input from focus groups and approval by the MEO Board of Directors. The Action Plan, which will cover the period of Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2026, is being done by Dr. Lori Teragawachi, who has been contracted by MEO.


“MEO’s mission is to ‘strengthen the community while helping people in need restore their hope, reach their potential and enrich their lives,’’’ said Cabebe. “Please be our partner in helping our neighbors in need.”

A copy of the survey may be downloaded at, filled out and emailed to [email protected], mailed to P.O. Box 2122, Kahului, HI, 96733; or dropped off at 100 Mahalani St., Wailuku. Forms also may be filled out over the phone by calling 808-243-4306.


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