Timothy Nye knows firsthand how important it is to have a place to call home. “I worked hard all my life, but once in a while, you get a bad break. I ran into hard times… I was living in my car,” he said. “I went to the shelter and they saved me. With their help, now I have a place to stay—and life is good.”

Nye was one of several panelists who spoke during the fourth annual Maui Landlord Summit on Wednesday, July 24, at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului. Underwritten by the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) and the National Association of Realtors, the free event was designed to empower property managers and current and prospective landlords so they can help address the urgent need for housing on Maui.

Finding safe and affordable housing can be a significant hurdle for low-income or homeless individuals and families on Maui. And while there are resources to assist them, many of these individuals still face the difficult task of finding a landlord who will approve their rental application. With that in mind, RAM joined forces with the County of Maui and the Maui Homeless Alliance for a third time to demystify and destigmatize the support services utilized by many low-income and homeless individuals in our community while educating landlords and property managers about the social service programs and services available to them.

Nearly 200 attendees listened to moderated panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions featuring legal professionals, landlords, tenants and representatives of agencies that provide financial support and other services to residents in need of housing. In the first panel discussion of the day, RAM Government Affairs Director Jason Economou, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii staff attorney Ben Pittenger and local attorneys Loren Tilley and Joshua James answered audience members’ questions about landlord and tenant rights. A second panel discussion spotlighted the experiences of two tenants, Nye and Jamila Prentice, and two landlords, Jessmine Kim and Tracy Kalama of Millenium Realty. “You never know a person’s story… and a lot of you in this room are in a position where you can help as far as being available to rent to people coming out of hard situations,” Prentice said. “Hopefully we can all move forward and end the housing crisis that’s plaguing this county.”

This year’s summit also included some encouraging words from Monique Yamashita, vice chairperson of the Maui Homeless Alliance and executive director of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers. “We want to be the first island to come to functional zero in the state,” she said. “I think we can do it.” The Maui Homeless Alliance routinely meets to find ways to reduce and ultimately end homelessness on Maui; the group also coordinates the island’s annual Point-in-Time count survey. Volunteers are always needed for the survey, Yamashita said. “Everyone in this room shares a common goal—to end homelessness,” she said. “Thank you for being a part of the solution.”

Leila Chin of Yoshida Realty Group was honored as the 2019 Landlord of the Year. The annual award is given to a landlord or property manager who actively works with social service agencies to find rentals for individuals and families who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Chin was nominated along with three other finalists: Claire Gibo from Maui Real Estate Group, Shanna Souza from Shore To Shore Realty, and Brandy Aki from Emerald Club Realty. All four were nominated for their willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need and for maintaining partnerships with social service programs.

Participants in this year’s Maui Landlord Summit included RAM, the Office of the Mayor, the County of Maui Department of Housing & Human Concerns, Maui Homeless Alliance, Catholic Charities Hawaii, Department of Veterans Affairs, Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Family Life Center, Mental Health Kokua, Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Women Helping Women, Legal Aid Society, Asian Real Estate Association of America, Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Steadfast Housing Development Corporation.

The Maui News – August 5, 2019

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