HI-EMA announces new housing eligibility policy for Lahaina fire-displaced residents

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The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) has unveiled a new policy regarding the eligibility of housing services for indivduals and families who were displaced by the August 2023 Lahaina fires. Under this new policy, households may no longer be eligible for non-congregate sheltering (NCS) services under certain circumstances.

The state has developed the strategy to move individuals and families out of NCS, offering them choices that will necessitate them to make firm arrangements.

NCS households were initially part of the response efforts following the Maui wildfires. The latest policy is part of the state’s effort to prioritize the urgent transition of individuals and families out of NCS and into more permanent housing solutions.

A recent business rule agreed upon by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state has been issued, authorizing HI-EMA and a joint task force to implement actions that will help facilitate efforts to transition households out of NCS currently living in hotels.


A survivor in NCS seeking support for the FEMA-eligible program will have four opportunities to accept their Direct Housing option. Meanwhile, survivors in NCS seeking support through the state of Hawaiʻi’s Housing solution will be given two opportunities to accept an option. The state’s plan is to ultimately wrap up its NCS program.

The NCS Joint Task Force is comprised of HI-EMA, FEMA, American Red Cross, Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services, and representatives from other community organizations. The Joint NCS Task Force will be responsible for initiating contact with survivors and implementing procedures should clients decline offers from the task force.

“This new policy is designed to ensure that households facing challenges in accepting housing options are given the necessary support and time to find a suitable solution,” according to a HI-EMA news release.


HI-EMA Administrator, James Barros said, “We are committed to working with individuals and families to address their specific needs and provide assistance in finding alternative housing options so that families can regain a sense of normalcy and stability in their lives… We will continue to work closely with our partners to develop innovative and compassionate solutions that prioritize the well-being of those we serve.”


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