Local nonprofit launches fund to prevent displacement of Native Hawaiians impacted by Maui wildfires
Hawaiʻi Community Lending today announced the launch of the Kānaka Anti-Displacement Fund to prevent displacement of kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) from Maui after the tragic wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in Lahaina.
The Fund’s goal is to assist up to 271 kānaka in preserving their stewardship and access to ʻāina (land) on Maui over the next five years. The objective is to ensure that homeowners impacted by the Maui fires maximize their insurance claim payouts and disaster assistance funding to preserve their access to ‘āina and rebuild. Under the Fund, HCL ‘Ohana Advocates will connect kānaka with experts to create emergency budgets, apply for financial assistance, obtain mortgage forbearances, and file insurance claims or appeal denials.
“This fund emerges in response to the urgent need to support the Native Hawaiian population in the wake of the Maui fires, which uprooted 271 kānaka homeowners from their lands in Lahaina,” says Jeff Gilbreath, executive director of Hawai‘i Community Lending. “We must safeguard our kānaka community and ensure they can remain rooted in their homeland.”
The Fund’s Phase I objective is to first support the 102 ʻōhana in the Leialiʻi Homestead on Maui. HCL helped the Leialiʻi ʻohana to get their mortgages to secure their place on the land in 2007. Now 15 years later, HCL aims to make sure they stay on the land. HCL will raise $6.5 million over the next six months to provide loans to Leialiʻi Homesteaders to help them retain Sentinel Pacific, a Native Hawaiian public insurance adjuster, to file insurance claims and advocate on their behalf. The average homeowner loan will be $50,000 up to 5% interest and repaid from insurance claim monies or other loans.
Following the successful implementation of Phase I, the Fund’s focus will extend to the remaining 169 kānaka homeowners who have been similarly impacted by the fires, with the intention of offering them the same level of support and resources.
Both investments and donations are being sought from community members, institutions, funders, and investors. HCL has already raised $680,100 for the Fund and extends a big mahalo to funders – Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation ($250,000), Oweesta ($250,000), Kataly Foundation ($30,000), and Jeannine McCune ($100). HCL has also allocated $150,000 of its own monies to making loans to Native Hawaiian homeowners. You can invest or donate at to the Fund at www.HawaiiCommunityLending.com.
The Kānaka Anti-Displacement Fund is included in the Phase I – Response of the two-part Maui Response and Recovery Strategy, launched by HCL and its parent nonprofit, Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA), on Aug. 28. The strategy prioritizes increasing public awareness of and access to homeowner insurance, disaster assistance, and grants and loans for recovery and rebuilding.
“We know the work ahead can seem overwhelming to families who have lost everything,” Gilbreath says. “But we are here to stand with our kānaka maoli, to bring them hope and navigate to get the resources they need to rebuild their homes and return to their land. That is the goal of the Kānaka Anti-Displacement Fund; that is why we are here.”
Gilbreath will be taking to the airwaves this week to explain the Fund and to help reach impacted families in the disaster area. Pacific Media Group is collaborating with HCA and HCL to run a radio campaign in addition to PSAs on all six stations, giving accurate information about filing insurance claims, applying for disaster assistance, requesting mortgage forbearances, and preventing scams and displacement from the land by predatory investors.
In addition, HCA and HCL are doubling their on-island teams and working with partners to help households navigate the filing of insurance claims, applying for disaster recovery funding, stopping foreclosure, and requesting mortgage forbearances. The organizations are working out of community hub offices in West Maui in partnership with the Leialiʻi Homestead community and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and at the Maui Mall managed by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
For more information visit www.HawaiiCommunityLending.com.