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Tax incentives, pleas, requests and even emergency orders — Hawaiian residents will have housing one way or another.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has asked for 3,000 condos and homes operating as short-term rentals to be converted into long-term housing for those displaced by this summer’s wildfire in Lahaina.

Green added in a press conference on Friday that he would use post-emergency orders if enough units weren’t converted by mid-January.

Over 6,000 residents are still in hotels due to a housing shortage, prompting the governor to consider emergency orders to force the conversion – if not done voluntarily – by mid-January. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it will offer rent subsidies to short-term rental operators for units rented to about 2,000 families, Maui News reported. 

Tax Incentives for Short-Term Rental Conversions

Last month, Maui mayor Richard Bissen pitched tax incentives to turn short-term rentals into long-term housing. They would lead to an estimated total savings of $17,775 for properties with market value of $1 million that are leased to displaced families from January 1 to December 31, 2024. 

Green aims for these measures to provide interim housing for two years while more permanent housing is developed. The goal is to convert around 10-12% of available short-term units, totaling 2,000 families covered by FEMA and 1,000 families by the state and philanthropists. The move is expected to cost less than housing families in hotels.

There were recently 12,000 to 14,000 legal short-term rental units on Maui, and as many as 25,000 including illegal ones. 

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Tags: future of lodging, hawaii, maui, vacation rentals, wildfires

Photo credit: Maui's beach. Many locals don't want tourism to return right now. Source: Unsplash/Pascal Debrunner Pascal Debrunner / Unsplash

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