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February 22, 2023

Lanai residents push for accountability on Maui County affordable housing project

Article originally published in Lanai Today. Photography courtesy of Our Lanai.

In 1992, Maui County was given 115 acres of land on Lanai to develop an affordable housing project. Thirty years later, residents are frustrated at the lack of any tangible results. While the Department of Housing and Human Concerns started developing plans for the project in 2009, the land, which is located on the western edge of Lanai City, remains untouched.

The lack of housing options on the island isn’t a new issue, but it is one that’s become more pressing as the population ages and the number of multigenerational households increase because there is limited to no new supply of available homes for rent or purchase.

Last July, Erin Atacador and a group of likeminded residents decided to take action. They started a community campaign called Our Lanai which aims to expedite the development of new housing, amenities and services on the County land.

“Our Lanai is really for our community, all of our residents. We decided not to form a traditional board made up of roles such as a chair, accountant, or secretary,” said Atacador. “We all come together to do whatever needs to get done. We wear many hats and rely on each other much like we do within our community, which is what makes our community so unique.”

The campaign has outlined an action plan for Maui County with construction on the new development happening in as little as four years.

“Lanai residents should be able to have the opportunity to own an affordable home,” said Diane Preza, one of the members of the campaign. “Many have lived here all their lives and want to continue to do so. Owning a house will help future generations by securing a place for them at home.”

The campaign is comprised of a diverse group, from lifelong residents to those who only moved to the island recently. They are united in their desire to see the community grow and thrive.

The campaign team held their first community event on Saturday, November 5, 2022, on the Dole Admin lawn where they shared their vision with other residents. The event drew about 100 people and featured interactive activities, informational booths, and a variety of food vendors.

Support for the campaign has been slowly growing and a petition has received nearly 400 signatures so far. Members of Our Lanai are encouraging others to spread the word and let Maui County officials know that this affordable housing project is urgent and necessary.

“I am a lifelong resident here,” stated Atacador. “My parents live here. I have a son as well as my husband’s family; we all live here. We want to invest in our community. We don’t want to leave Lanai.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit OurLanai.com.

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