After longtime residents, including kupuna on fixed incomes, spoke out about looming evictions at one of the last affordable apartment rentals left in Lahaina, county leaders are making moves to purchase the 20-unit Lahaina Crossroads, located building blocks away from Front Street.
Mayor Michael Victorino is requesting up to $11 million to purchase the building at 767 Luakini St., Lahaina, according to an announcement Wednesday.
The move comes on the heels of a resolution by Council Member Tamara Paltin, whose residency seat covers West Maui, urging the council to purchase the building for the benefit of longterm residents.
In June, tenants received a notice to vacate ahead of renovations that would make way for a conversion to transient vacation rentals, which is permitted by current zoning. Tenants spoke to Maui Now about their concerns over finding another place to live, especially with Lahaina’s limited housing supply.
As a result, the owners decided to give tenants more time before other notices to vacate were sent out.
Victorino met with the property owner over recent months to emphasize the community benefits of the county’s acquisition of the apartment complex, the Wednesday announcement said. He believes the community will greatly benefit from long-term affordable rentals rather than short-term vacation rentals.
“I want to thank the landowner for negotiating in good faith out of consideration of the hardship these kupuna and other tenants would face if the planned conversion to vacation rentals were to proceed,” Victorino said in the statement. “The acquisition of Lahaina Crossroads will mean move-in-ready, long-term rental units for our residents.”
As one way to combat the housing crisis, Stand Up Maui, a local nonprofit that advocates for affordable housing, had encouraged the county to acquire existing affordable housing infrastructure to keep tenants in homes.
Paltin said that she fully supports the county’s acquisition of the building.
“I also appreciate the landowner’s consideration of our community’s well-being,” she said in the statement.
The budget amendment requesting funding is posted on the Maui County Council’s meeting agenda for Tuesday.