Voluntary tax incentives could encourage landlords to house displaced Lahaina residents

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Maui County Council on Dec. 15, 2023.

Dec. 15, 2023, 9 a.m.

To: Chair Alice Lee
Vice-Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura
Maui County Council

From: Jonathan Helton, Policy Researcher
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Comments on Bill 131

Aloha Chair Lee, Vice-Chair Sugimura and other Council members,

Thank you for considering Bill 131, FD1 (2023), which would provide anyone who rents to Lahaina residents displaced by the August 2023 wildfires a 100% exemption from Maui County’s property tax for the second half of fiscal 2024 and — if they continue to rent to displaced residents — all of fiscal 2025.

The bill also contains a clause intended to protect existing renters from being evicted by landlords who would want to receive the tax break from this bill and the proposed state subsidies for those who rent to displaced persons.[1]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii believes this voluntary incentive could help house the thousands of families and individuals who lost their homes in Lahaina.

We would welcome further dialogue with the Council on strategies to create temporary housing and to streamline the reconstruction process of Lahaina.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Jonathan Helton
Policy Researcher
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Stewart Yerton, “Hawaii Governor Wants To Entice Maui Property Owners To Rent To Fire Victims,” Honolulu Civil Beat, Nov. 28, 2023.

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