Sarah Verastro is one of the lucky ones. It will continue to be held in a tourist hotel near Lahaina until the end of the year. Others, more than 600 people, were forced to leave their temporary accommodation in hotel rooms on 1 December.
-The situation seems very uncertain. I have no idea where we will end up, and others have it worse. “We need a physical place to be, because building new homes will take time,” she says.
Most of the people who were forced to give up their hotel rooms at the beginning of the month got rooms in new hotels, but the issue is starting to generate serious controversy in West Maui. Four weeks after the fire, which killed 100 people and engulfed about 2,000 buildings, the city’s mayor decided to allow tourists to enter again.
The justification was, among other things, to allow fire victims to return to work and income. 40 percent of Maui’s economy comes from tourism.
“They are treated like second-class citizens.”
During the fall, Bailey Kiakona and his Lahaina Strong colleagues protested how quickly tourism was returning. They believe that locals are competing with tourists – with much larger wallets.
– The fact that we opened so quickly has thrown our people into chaos. Some have been forced to move 9-10 times now. “We are treated like second-class citizens,” Bailey Kyakona tells SVT.
Lahaina Strong wants the mayor to ban private landlords from renting out homes for periods of less than 30 days. In this way, the organization hopes that more housing will be available for victims of the Lahaina Fire.
“The mayor has that power, and we hope he listens to us,” Kyakona says.
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