Mayor Richard Bissen thanked council members and many community testifiers after his real property tax proposal to incentivize long-term housing options passed first reading at Maui County Council on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 5, 2023.
“I appreciate the council’s diligence in the consideration of this bill and the time that more than 60 people, including survivors and owners, took to provide testimony, both written and in person for this important proposal,” he said. “We are extremely hopeful that the outcome of this bill will help those in dire need, and create immediate solutions for housing as we continue to address this complex housing crisis.”
About 65 community members came out to testify in person, and approximately 680 written testimonies were submitted. An overwhelming majority was in support of Bill 131.
Bill 131 incentivizes short-term rental owners with a 100-percent real property tax exemption to provide long-term housing for displaced families impacted by the Aug. 8 wildfires.
If the bill gains final approval, the program will launch to accept enrollment applications on Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, 2024, and can provide long-term housing options for families to be housed as early as Feb. 1, 2024.
In a collaborative effort, the council accommodated a special council meeting today to expedite the opportunity to discuss Mayor’s bill, and if passed, allowed for a narrow window to include the bill for second and final reading at the Dec 15. council meeting.
Mayor Bissen said Bill 131 is one of several strategies his administration is considering to address long-term housing needs, including additional dwelling units, module housing options and potential housing projects that can be expedited.
“We are all navigating uncharted circumstances through an unprecedented disaster. One thing is certain: We all share a profound kuleana in caring for our people,” Mayor Bissen said. “With that responsibility comes a shared sacrifice to ensure our people are returned to a place to call home.”