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Case Urges Federal Construction Of Transitional Housing For Maui Fire Victims

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security, with oversight and funding responsibility over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), today called on the federal agency to expand efforts to provide transitional housing for the thousands left homeless following the wildfires that devastated Lahaina last August. 

During a Subcommittee hearing this morning on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, Case urged Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to build transitional houses instead of relying on relocating victims from hotels and other post-emergency dwellings to existing homes or apartments.

Case said relying only on rehousing is extremely difficult given the severe shortage of homes on Maui that already existed before the disaster that left some 12,000 people homeless.

During his questioning of Mayorkas, Case said “despite many positive areas of progress, the one missing piece is housing.”

“The very unique circumstances of the Maui housing market make it very difficult for you to follow your standard approach” when it comes to assisting those who lose their homes through disasters.

Case said that the Department of Homeland Security usually pursues both a rehousing and rebuilding approach, but in the case of Lahaina, FEMA has focused largely on trying to find housing in existing inventory which has negatively skewed the Maui ownership and rental market.

“That is not going to be all of the solution here,” said Case. “You actually need some form of rebuilding to pull this off over time.”

Case asked Mayorkas to accelerate consideration of FEMA building some transitional housing and/or the infrastructure necessary for homes on land made available by the State of Hawai‘i.  He also asked Mayorkas to consider a waiver that would allow those victims previously disqualified for rehousing to be granted access to temporary housing.

Case earlier met with Maui Mayor Richard Bissen, who attended Case’s Subcommittee hearing.

A five-minute video of Case’s questioning of Secretary Mayorkas is here.