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Hawaii State Senator Asks Biden to Support Program to Pause Mortgage Payments for Lahaina Victims

Hawaii State Senator Asks Biden to Support Program to Pause Mortgage Payments for Lahaina Victims

I wish the senator tons of good luck in this quest.

The Hawaiian city of Lahaina on the idyllic island of Maui was incinerated in early August as a hurricane-powered wildfire swept through the region.  Anthropologists and area officials have been sorting through the ash and debris, and have confirmed 98 deaths, with 10 unaccounted individuals.

The search for victims presses on, and the names of the dead have slowly emerged. Maui County has publicly identified 93 people after notifying their families.

The deadly blaze in Lahaina started as brush fires and exploded into the town on Aug. 8, becoming the country’s deadliest wildfire in more than 100 years.

Locating remains and identifying victims has been a difficult process. Experts in examining human remains have been dispatched to Maui to help the local authorities.

People who are unaccounted for are not necessarily dead. In past deadly wildfires across the United States, the number of people who were initially unaccounted for has vastly outnumbered the final death toll.

And while people are beginning to return to the area, there is a growing concern that the resulting economic devastation means many can’t make mortgage payments. So, a state Senator has asked for help from Biden….insisting he keep the promise he made during a speech in Maui shortly after the incident.

Sen. Angus McKelvey (District 6, West Maui, Māʻalaea, Waikapū, South Maui) recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that he instruct the Department of the Treasury to lead a conversation with national banks and their servicing entities to institute a back-end mortgage forbearance program, with the interest being waived, for the entire duration of the rebuilding process.

A mortgage abatement, similar to those issued during COVID-19, would delay eminent home foreclosures and ensure Lahaina residents would be able to remain in their community.

McKelvey urged President Biden to maintain his initial promise made to the Lahaina wildfire victims during his visit on Aug. 21.

“The dreams and heritage of generations of Lahaina residents are at stake, and only your intervention can help us,” McKelvey wrote. “I humbly ask you uphold the promise you made to us that day on Maui that Lahaina was not for sale.”

I wish the senator tons of good luck in this quest.

Meanwhile, Maui’s housing issues will likely continue for quite some time.

Residents who survived the wildfire that leveled the Hawaii town of Lahaina might not be able to afford to live there after it is rebuilt unless officials alter the zoning laws and make other changes, economists warned Friday.

“The risk is very real,″ Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, told a virtual news conference ahead of the group’s release Friday of its quarterly state economic forecast.

Soaring housing prices have already forced many Native Hawaiians and other longtime Hawaii residents to leave the islands and move to the U.S. mainland. The wildfire that claimed at least 97 lives and destroyed 2,200 buildings in the West Maui community of Lahaina — 86% of which were residential — amplifies that problem for the survivors. Nearly 8,000 of them have been placed at 40 hotels or other accommodations around the island of Maui.

“Market prices for this new housing are likely to far exceed the already high prices that existed in Lahaina before the fire. For renters, the old housing stock that was destroyed provided opportunities for reasonable rents,” the economic report said.

Reworking zoning laws would require more flexibility and willingness to part with power than Hawaiian bureaucrats have demonstrated.


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The land under the destroyed house ought to be pretty valuable, if there’s that much demand. Enough for a nice house somewhere else.

    Gosport in reply to rhhardin. | October 13, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    That’s exactly what Maui residents are worried about, the forced gentrification of Lahaina. One of the charms of Lahaina is that it isn’t all ultra rich folks in mansions. It was old Hawaiian families in older homes who had lived in the area forever as well as some rich folks. Selling off the land would change all that.

    Maybe the State could ease off on the zoning laws and such to allow like-for-like rebuilding in exchange for some help with the mortgage situation?

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Gosport. | October 13, 2023 at 2:35 pm

      “ Maybe the State could ease off on the zoning laws and such to allow like-for-like rebuilding in exchange for some help with the mortgage situation?”

      It all depends on how many state legislators people like Oprah Winfrey own.

        theres an angle in coverage for increased cost due to ordinance. Many of these houses were freaking ancient- and the cost to build to code is a lot more than the cost of the original.

        That will play a big part.

If they have homeowner’s insurance that’s worth the paper it’s printed on, that should already be taken care of.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to Ironclaw. | October 13, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    >>If they have homeowner’s insurance that’s worth the paper it’s printed on, that should already be taken care of.<<

    They should. As most banks require sufficient insurance on the home to cover the mortgage if for some reason the home is destroyed. At least that's the way it used to be. Not sure what the banking industry standard is these days.

    You can bet 99% of them refinanced prior to rates going through the roof so the “rebuild cost estimate” that all lenders require on HO policies is recent.

    This is why dwelling coverage product is usually “fire” part of “Casuality and fire.”

    Many were probably under covered for “loss of use” and it will also take a minute claims to process these. It’s not tough assess that it’s total loss. However this is Hawaii- it’s not like you can have adjusters drive in from other states like on the contintent.

      Gosport in reply to Andy. | October 13, 2023 at 3:20 pm

      The problem with that is that many of the houses were owned outright by families who had lived in them for generations. So no mortgage, and no impetus to update (and have to pay higher ins rates).

      Andy in reply to Andy. | October 13, 2023 at 4:34 pm

      I admire anyone who self insures, but I don’t think self insurance was really the agenda they had if they weren’t carrying coverage.

Couple of problems.
People who had their house burned down had to have insurance so this isn’t about them.
It’s people in surrounding areas that weren’t damaged but there is nowhere to work. That’s unemployment assistance.
A friend lived in area devastated by a hurricane. His house took very little damage, but his employer gone. Rented his house for 4 times normal price to contractor doing hurricane repairs. This is what will happen here. A standing house nearby is worth much more.

How would that Zoning look? Genetics based?

Does the State impose an artificial price?
A lot of people died there. Will the State compel survivors or heirs to only receive 10 cents on the dollar for the land? And restrict who you can sell it to? Which valuation will the State’s tax assessor use?

The only answer, is the Free Market.
The lives of the people that survived have already been changed forever. Nothing can make it go back to the way it was.

It’s not progress, it’s consequences.

Brandon is too busy shoveling millions to Ukraine to hide his corruption to care about America. Donate to Oprah and The Rocks charity to get money to our citizens. I wonder if some Brandon voters are finally getting a wakeup call about how little the Democrats care about them outside of votes

    henrybowman in reply to diver64. | October 13, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    No. If they get upset, they’re going to get upset at “the government.” It never occurs to them that the government they refused to vote for may have been kinder to them than the government that they did vote for.