LETTERS for the June 18 issue
Be prepared for a Human Services Tsunami
We are looking at a Human Services Tsunami heading toward Maui that will strain our nonprofit human service providers even more than what they are now currently experiencing. The elements of this pending disaster are:
1) A breakdown in the Hawaii State Unemployment system that continues to have hundreds and hundreds of Maui households in the dark about the status of their unemployment applications and when they can be paid. Many have been waiting for eight weeks or more for an answer, and they are out of money.
2) The limited pandemic unemployment payment of $600 per week is due to end on July 25, immediately cutting any unemployment benefits to $263 per week from the current $863 per week.
3) Federal authority to prevent rent evictions as a result of the CARES Act ends July 26. Landlords have already begun to prepare their eviction notices.
4) Rules set to go into effect by the Trump Administration will cut at least 775,000 people off of the EBT food stamp program unless they can find at least 20 hours of work per week. This when the Hawaii unemployment rate is at 22.3 percent.
The county should continue to consider these four elements as they review, appropriate and direct emergency services funding to help with rent, utility assistance and additional needs.
All of the elements mentioned will place a huge burden on county-funded services, and we must be prepared.
TOM BLACKBURN-RODRIGUEZ, Kihei
Support organizations fighting for racial justice
Millions of people across the country are speaking out against the unrelenting violence against and murder of Black Americans.
Racism is never far beneath the surface in our country – it is clear and longstanding. The recent and brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were horrific and jarring – yet George, Breonna, Ahmaud and countless others are subject to acts of devaluation and dehumanization because of the color of their skin every day. Worse, for George and Breonna, the acts of violence that led to their deaths were committed by police officers.
The marches and protests occurring across the country are a way we stand unified in speaking out against inhumanity and brutality, and to demand and deliver justice for the Black community.
I stand with them in solidarity for justice. Black lives matter.
We have a long road ahead and a lot of work to do. Let us recognize the facts and the reality and work together to rout out systemic racism and institutional segregation. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and be spectators.
I’m reaching out today to ask you to join me in supporting several organizations fighting for racial justice:
NAACP Legal Defense Fund – Through litigation, advocacy and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.
Black Voters Matter Fund works to build power in Black communities through effective voting that “allows a community to determine its own destiny.”
The Bail Project works to combat mass incarceration and combat racial and economic disparities in the bail system. One-hundred percent of online donations are used to bring people home.
Innocence Project exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
Split a contribution between these organizations so we can work to end systemic racism in America and deliver justice to the Black community.
Together, we need to move our country forward.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO
Maui doesn’t need another hotel
My name is Kanani Higbee. I am a Maui ‘oiwi. I do not support this hotel that is planned to be built in Wailuku. It’s not necessary. Maui has plenty of hotels. Supposedly, this hotel is to benefit visitors for business and school activities. However, we have enough hotels right by the airport; there is a business hotel. In Kahului, we have a couple great hotels for businesses and families. There are even hostels.
What Maui needs is housing for Native Hawaiians. There are 28,000 Native Hawaiians on the list of Hawaiian Homes. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 has not been honored. There are only 9,000 Hawaiians awarded in the last 100 years. Countless Native Hawaiians have died on the list. Native Hawaiians have the highest rates of homelessness in the state.
Maui doesn’t need any more hotels. What Hawaii needs is more of an effort of the county and state working together to get Native Hawaiians on the land. Nearly 2 million acres was taken from the Hawaiian Kingdom against the will of its people (ku’e petition, and house arrest and overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani). Since the county wants to build on Maui, the county should build Department of Hawaiian Homes. There is no reason construction workers can’t be used for DHHL homes. To deny that is trying to not get Hawaiians on the land. If there’s a will, there’s a way. And the county proves time and time again where their priorities are.
I have seen Maui grow for the worst. So many Native Hawaiians are getting even more displaced off their lands. Many are moving to the Big Island, where the land and homes are a fraction of the price here on Maui. And many have to move to inexpensive places in the Mainland. Some stick it out on Maui and live in congested homes that make the quality of life unbearable and cause mental health issues, because it’s ten people living in a small, two-bedroom apartment.
Lastly, the developers have no conscience, pushing out the existing tenants that have small businesses below their monstrosity of a hotel.
Please stop building the wrong things on Maui. We don’t need nor want any more hotels on our beloved island. We don’t want gentrification. We want Native Hawaiians to live in Hawaii. We want Maui ‘oiwi to live on Maui. And we belong in our ahupua’a, where we are direct lineal descendants, and not have to move away from our homeland.
KANANI HIGBEE, Lahaina