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Visitor industry provides $150,000 for Maui homelessness services

By Staff | Apr 18, 2019

Nine nonprofit organizations on Maui that serve the homeless received $150,000 on April 2.

WAILUKU – The Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, recently distributed $150,000 to nine nonprofit organizations on Maui that serve the homeless.

The recipients were Catholic Charities of Hawaii, Maui Division; Family Life Center; Feed My Sheep; Habitat for Humanity; Hale Kau Kau; Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center; Keiki Cupboard; Maui Food Bank; and The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Division, Maui Corps.

The organizations, which have been serving the homeless in tourism-impacted areas, were all selected by the HLTA based on county chapter input and subject to final approval by the state board.

HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann and HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum presented the grants at a ceremony held at the Maui Beach Hotel.

They were joined by Maui Hotel and Lodging Association Board Chair Fred Findlen and Executive Director Lisa Paulson, as well as other members of the MHLA board.

Hannemann said, “These matching grants were the result of a very productive public-private partnership of the State Legislature and administration, Hawaii Tourism Authority and visitor industry, as represented by the HLTA. All of the money from the state, both tax revenues and matching funds, were generated by our top industry, tourism. Moreover, it’s going to a cause that addresses a long-standing concern for our entire community, not just the visitor industry.

“The HLTA has donated more than $2 million to date to homelessness service providers, most of it through our annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk. This latest endeavor enables us to expand our charitable endeavors with the support of the state government. We’re especially grateful to Chris Tatum and his HTA team for their supportive partnership.”

Tatum said, “The Hawaii Tourism Authority is very pleased to join with the visitor industry, through the HLTA, in contributing to helping the homeless and supporting those organizations that are serving this population throughout the state. Homelessness affects the experiences of our millions of visitors, employees in resort areas and the general public. Any measures we can take to find solutions are needed and welcome, and I’m encouraged that we’ll be seeing more work in this regard in the months ahead.”

“It is very much appreciated that the monies we have already allocated to these worthy nonprofit organizations through our Maui Charity Walk are being doubled by the state matching grants. We thank our Maui state legislators for supporting HTA and HLTA to make this happen,” said Paulson.

“Each year, we look forward to the funds from Charity Walk. This year, we received an amazing surprise – to benefit from that money again – at just the right time,” stated Scott Hopkins, operations director for Feed My Sheep. “The money that’s coming from this [Act 86] is exactly what we need right now, to make sure that we can keep meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness.”

Monique Yamashita, executive director for Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center, noted that these grants illustrate how much “HTA and HLTA care; that they value our communities, and want to see us get healthier and better. To help those who are homeless, those who have the least, is amazing. It’s a great investment in our community, and it means a lot to us.”

The funding was authorized by Act 86 (2018), which was championed by House Tourism Chair Rep. Richard Onishi and Senate Tourism Chair Sen. Glenn Wakai. The measure appropriated up to $1 million from the general revenues of the State of Hawaii to non- profit organizations addressing homelessness in tourism-impacted areas throughout the state. That revenue is to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the private sector.

Kauai groups received their grants on April 1, and the Oahu and Hawaii Island presentations were held on April 4.

The Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association is a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, other lodging entities, suppliers and related firms and individuals. HLTA is dedicated to supporting Hawaii’s visitor industry through education, political action and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.