Maui [Unsplash]

STR industry unites to support those affected by Hawaii wildfires

US: The short-term rental industry is uniting to support people affected by the deadly wildfires in Hawaii last week.

A series of wildfires broke out predominantly on the island of Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island, with 99 people confirmed to have died so far, at least 100 people reported to be missing, at least 11,000 people displaced, and more than 2,200 buildings destroyed – making it the deadliest wildfire in the United States in over 100 years [since the Cloquet Fire in 1918].

The fires are believed to have been largely fuelled by strong winds from Hurricane Dora [later Typhoon Dora], which travelled more than 4000 miles in crossing the Atlantic Ocean into Central America and then the Pacific Ocean.

In Honolulu, on the island of Oahu’s south shore, mayor Rick Blangiardi has suspended a law that mandates a 30-day minimum rental period on vacation rentals in order to support those in need of emergency housing who have been affected and displaced by the wildfires. The suspension of the ordinance, which was brought in in October last year and gave the city the authority to fine transgressors $10,000 per day that they violate, is due to last until the end of the month.

Blangiardi also urged property owners and managers to offer free or discounted temporary housing to wildfire survivors.

Meanwhile, Airbnb has confirmed that it will offer full refunds to guests with eligible existing bookings in Maui, while hosts in the impacted areas can also cancel without fees or other consequences. The company’s extenuating circumstances policy will also apply to parts of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Airbnb’s charitable arm Airbnb.org has joined Hawaii governor Josh Green in announcing that it will provide free, temporary stays for at least 1,000 people displaced by the wildfires. More information can be found at this link.

Lahaina-based holiday home letting agency Coconut Condos has raised more than $98,000 towards its $120,000 goal on a GoFundMe Ohana fundraiser for its employees as part of an emergency fund to assist them with immediate expenses. The company revealed that its office / warehouse had burned to the ground and that 90 per cent of its owners’ properties had gone, while several of its employees had lost their homes and remain displaced.

According to Coconut Condos, “any donations exceeding $90,000 will be shared with the rest of our employees who have lost their jobs due to this disaster to help them move forward and bridge the gap to their next step”.

Donate to the Coconut Condos fundraiser here.

Software-as-a-service [SaaS] platform Turno, a company that was founded and is based in Hawaii, is supporting short-term rental cleaners in its Turno marketplace on Maui who have lost their homes, cleaning businesses and livelihoods. Turno has launched a GoFundMe campaign to provide financial support to cleaners who have been impacted by the wildfires, raising more than $6,000 towards its $10,000 target.

Donate to the Turno GoFundMe campaign here.

Jeff Wilson, CEO and chief designer of portable accommodation startup Jupe, confirmed that his company was working to get 100 Jupe pop-up shelters to Maui at half of the usual cost, with land already donated by a Hawaiian. The shelters can be erected in less than a day and run off solar energy.

Communities, government agencies or relief organisations on Maui can contact Wilson at j@jupe.com.

Revenue management platforms BeyondPriceLabs and Wheelhouse, with the support of the O’ahu Short-Term Rental Alliance [OSTRA], have temporarily moderated surge pricing in Hawaii to monitor and implement guards against artificial surge pricing.

The Maui Strong Fund is providing financial resources that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery for the devastating wildfires on Maui. The Hawaii Community Foundation [HCF] will not collect a fee for donations to the Maui Strong Fund; 100 per cent of the funds will be distributed for community needs.

Those with questions are advised to contact Donor Services at donorservices@hcf-hawaii.org or [808] 566-5560.

Other ways to support the recovery efforts in affected areas include donating to:

  • Hawaii Red Cross – visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS [800-733-2767] or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation
  • Donate to the Salvation Army Hawaii here
  • Contact Maui Food Bank at info@mauifoodbank.org or [808] 243-9500 by phone
  • Contact Aloha United Way at info@auw.org or [808] 536-1951 by phone

This page will continue to be updated with news of more relief efforts in Hawaii. Contact paul@internationalhospitality.media if you have relevant information to share.

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