Hawaii’s Governor Josh Green pledged to prevent land grabs in fire-ravaged Maui and keep land ownership local as rebuilding efforts proceed following devastating wildfires.
Proposed moratorium: Green has instructed the state attorney general to draft a moratorium on land transactions in fire-affected areas of Lahaina.
* The governor acknowledged that such a move could potentially face legal resistance.
* Green expressed concern about residents being exploited in their current traumatized state by people looking to acquire their land.
Affordable housing crisis: Prior to the wildfires, many residents were already struggling with the high cost of living in Hawaii.
* Housing affordability has been a longstanding issue in the state, with starter homes typically costing over $1 million and average renters dedicating 42% of their income to housing.
* The fear among local people is that the rebuilt town could become even more unaffordable due to hotels and condos targeted at wealthy visitors.
Recovery and rebuilding: Schools have begun reopening around Maui as signs of recovery start to show.
* The governor has proposed plans such as the state acquiring land in Lahaina to build workforce housing and a memorial.
* However, some criticism has been directed at officials, such as Maui’s Mayor Richard Bissen, for their handling of the crisis and communication of safety information.
Federal assistance: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has opened its first disaster recovery center in Maui to support affected residents.
* The center aims to provide information and updates on applications for aid.
* President Joe Biden is set to survey the damage on a visit scheduled for next Monday.
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