MAUI COMMUNITY POWER RECOVERY FUND
The Maui Community Power Recovery Fund was set up on August 10th, 2023, two days after the devastating fires in West and Upcountry Maui, to support both immediate relief and long term recovery and power building through community organizing to address both immediate challenges and the root environmental, economic, social and political causes of the Maui Fires' scale of immediate and ongoing devastation.
The Maui Community Power Recovery Fund has helped stand up several grassroots, community- and survivor-led efforts across Maui that have provided immediate neighbor-to-neighbor aid, while also building a base of fire survivors and other relief volunteers who can be mobilized in an ongoing effort to support recovery efforts. These include Lāhainā Strong, Tagnawa, and Roots Reborn Lāhainā. Our Hawaii Action’s focus has been on empowering and serving heavily impacted communities, and providing jobs to survivors through which they can support their neighbors’ recoveries through immediate support and organizing and advocacy for long-term recovery and rebuilding. These relief efforts are led by people with significant histories in their communities, and in particular serve the Native Hawaiian community, working-class residents of Lāhainā, and hard-to-reach and particularly vulnerable immigrant populations including the Ilokano, Tagalog, and Spanish-speaking populations.
We are proud to support direct advocacy and community organizing as a means for ensuring a just recovery for the people of Maui and putting pressure on elected officials to prioritize local need over special interest and corporate greed. There is simply no other way to meet the scale of devastation of the Maui Fires, over $5 billion in damages, without strong government action that prioritizes the common good. Every dollar spent on advocacy goes further by leveraging the government to make policy changes that mobilize additional investment.
While Our Hawaii Action engages in electoral activity as a part of our overall strategy, none of the funds raised into The Maui Community Power Recovery Fund have been or will be used for electoral activity, nor will any funds be passed through to another entity for such purposes.
At ~36%, The Maui Community Power Recovery Fund’s spend to raise ratio is among the highest of Maui Fires relief funds that have shared their data. We are spending the funds raised effectively to meet immediate need, while also setting ourselves up to support recovery over the long haul, meeting the intended initial goals of the fund.
Breakdown of the $199,189.94 spent as of December 28th, 2023:
Immediate Relief: $32,401.26
In the early days of the fire we filled critical, immediate, and emergent needs gaps such as providing clean clothes and coolers to support food deliveries to Disaster Response centers and hubs, hauling in food, supplies, and gas to Lāhainā and conducting door-to-door deliveries, providing direct relief work at community hubs that emerged through our organizers, and even surveying roofs for damage using drones and then patching approximately 98 roofs in Hawaiian Homestead properties in collaboration with Jay Boys Roofing and Advanced Roofing.
The heart of our immediate relief work was focused on community outreach. This included the conducting of neighbor-to-neighbor wellness checks with over 1,000 people in West Maui, connecting these survivors with the organization’s inventory of relief and recovery resources from community partners, FEMA, the County, the state, and beyond. We also sent text messages to over 23,000 West Maui and Maui residents with key information about deadlines for relief applications for FEMA, Red Cross, and other aid. As part of these efforts, we supported or helped host events targeting Ilokano-, Tagalog-, and Spanish-speaking immigrant communities that FEMA and the Red Cross have struggled to or were unable to serve, connecting these survivors with direct relief through our wellness check program and other aid, in collaboration with partners.
Last but not least, we have worked to strengthen community wellbeing and mental health through prayer events, community gatherings, art-making, and other means. Our most recent initiative in that regard has been a Lāhainā Strong led Holiday Ornament Drive in partnership with Help Maui Rise. For a donation of at least $100 to an impacted family on Help Maui Rise’s vetted families list, visitors and residents get a meaningful ornament, with the potential to raise around $150,000 in direct relief to impacted families.
Immigrant Organizing and Relief Startup Support: $24,430.77
Part of our immediate relief efforts were to help fund, standup, and provide early infrastructure for two new organizations, Roots Reborn Lāhainā and Tagnawa, which serve the dense but hard-to-reach immigrant populations of Lāhainā, with a particular focus on Filipino and Spanish-speaking populations.
Lāhainā Strong Organizing Support: $97,683.92
Supporting our core team of organizers, all impacted fire survivors, who have dropped everything to support their community under the grassroots banner of Lāhainā Strong to lead immediate relief efforts and long term campaigns around housing, safe debris removal, responsible tourism, environmental protection, protecting children in schools, ensuring water rights, and more as it relates to fire recovery and rebuilding. By uplifting the voices of survivors and residents so that they can be heard by decision makers, these organizers have secured major narrative and policy victories for the people of Lāhainā. They’ve helped uplift the need for a more responsible approach to tourism which led to a tiered reopening proposal from the Mayor.
Most notably, they’ve pushed for some of the approximately 25,000 short-term vacation rentals or empty homes to be converted to long-term rentals to temporarily house the approximately 6,000 fire survivors who have still not found dignified housing. Bringing together over three dozen community groups, uniting labor unions behind the cause, and putting pressure on the Mayor and Governor to urgently act with an occupation of West Maui’s most popular tourist beach, they have generated bold policy proposals from the Governor and Mayor to do just that. Most recently, they have pushed for community input and education around safe and responsible debris removal, and the Mayor has encouraged residents to take the Lāhainā Strong community survey as the formal input process for debris removal.
These efforts have activated at least 4,872 residents of West Maui into action around recovery, providing the most significant and comprehensive community organizing response to the fires. In addition, we have supported community leaders to reach a broader audience through hundreds of earned media press hits as well as over 100 social media posts, 79 social media posts, 50 videos, 22 live stream segments, 9 live streamed public community meetings, 19 filmed events, and over 21 one-on-one interviews with community leaders and recovery experts.
Long-Term Recovery Program Costs: $5,188.54
Early on we helped to initiate and facilitate three strategic planning and coordination meetings for community leaders in the immediate aftermath of the fires. These were led by and centered Kānaka Maoli survivors and families with deep generational ties to West Maui. The meetings aimed to develop long-term strategies that would help these communities strategize how to have a seat at the table in the recovery while also working to coordinate across the immediate relief needs.
Since then, our long-term recovery efforts have focused on supporting advocacy campaigns for a responsible reopening of tourism, the highly successful “Fishing For Housing” campaign backed by over 3 dozen groups and labor unions to convert short-term vacation rentals to long-term to provide dignified housing alternatives to fire survivors which has prompted policy responses from the Governor, Mayor, and County Council, and other efforts such as our recent work to find environmentally and communally sensible alternatives to waste debris removal, which has been backed and encouraged by the Maui County Mayor.
Digital Infrastructure Costs: $1,089.56
Our organizing and relief work’s nimbleness and reach has been aided by a robust digital infrastructure and tech-minded approach to provide efficiencies beyond what FEMA, the County, and the State have always been able to provide.
This includes donation processing fees, compliance, and other operational expenses.