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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA to launch Kanaaho Grant for Lahaina and Kula residents affected by wildfires

LAHAINA, KULA — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has announced the upcoming launch of the OHA Kanaaho Grant, providing critical support to homeowners and renters in the wildfire impact zones of Lahaina and Kula. This grant aims to assist those who have been adversely affected by the Aug. 8, 2023, Maui wildfires, offering much-needed relief during these challenging times. In Hawaiian, kanaaho translates to a feeling of relief after a struggle.

A one-time $9,000 grant will be awarded to eligible homeowners who experienced hardship; a one-time $4,000 grant will be awarded to eligible renters who experienced hardship. Grant funds are intended to improve the economic stability of impacted Native Hawaiians, empowering each beneficiary to determine their own greatest need and help meet that need in the face of disaster. The application period opens on April 10, 2024, at the OHA Maui Office and online at www.oha.org/kanaahogrant. 

“We understand the significant challenges faced by our community members in Lahaina and Kula as they recover from the impacts of wildfires,” said OHA Chair and Maui Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. “The OHA Kanaaho Grant is designed to provide direct support to our beneficiaries in their recovery journey.”

OHA’s Kanaaho Grants will be distributed to qualified head of households who meet all the eligibility criteria:

1. Applicant must be Native Hawaiian (verification required). Applicants must provide a government issued ID and one of the following documents accepted will include an OHA Hawaiian Registry Program card, a birth certificate that states “Hawaiian,” a Kamehameha Schools Ho‘oulu letter and a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands lease or waitlist verification.

2. Applicant experienced hardship due to disaster. This may be self-reported on the application form.

3. Applicant is the head of household for a primary residence (owned or rental) that is located in the impacted disaster district zones as determined by county officials. The residence must be the principal residence, where the family/individual lived prior to the disaster. Proof of Residency may include voter registration, car registration, a utility bill, a bank statement, 2022 Tax Return, FEMA Proof of Damage, HIEMA letter, letter from the County of Maui, or inclusion in the Maui Wildfire Damage Log.

4. Applicant must provide proof of ownership or renter status for a primary residence that is located in the impacted disaster district zones as determined by county officials. Documents accepted will include a house deed, mortgage statement, rental agreementrental receipt with street address or utility bill.

5. For payment purposes, the applicant must submit a signed W-9 form. The applicant will not be taxed. A W-9 form may be downloaded from www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf.

Wildfire survivors who resided in the wildfire impact zones are advised to collect their documentation to streamline their application process.

On Sept. 6, 2023, the OHA Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve the distribution of $5 million in emergency disaster relief funds to kōkua Native Hawaiian beneficiaries affected by the fires on Maui. Trustees have been working in cooperation with Native Hawaiian leaders on Maui to assess needs to inform the thoughtful deployment of funds to provide the largest impact to recovery efforts. The OHA Kanaaho Grant represents the first distribution of relief funds from OHA.

The $5 million commitment of funds is one of many actions OHA has taken to provide support to Maui wildfire victims. Other initiatives OHA has undertaken to kōkua include the distribution of $2 million in housing vouchers and gift cards with the charitable nonprofit Global Empowerment Mission. OHA also donated use of its warehouse in Hakuone to organize, store and deploy supplies to Maui as needed, and raised more than $100,000 with community partners via the Wiwoʻole Maui Benefit Concert.

For more information on the OHA Kanaaho Grant and OHA’s other Maui wildfire relief efforts, please visit www.oha.org/mauirelief.

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