Real estate professionals across the country are taking action to help support their colleagues in Maui after the devastating wildfires that began on Aug. 8. So far, the fires have killed at least 96 people and more victims are expected. Meanwhile, thousands of survivors are without shelter, water, electricity or phone service.
CoreLogic estimates that 3,088 homes, primarily in the Lahaina area, were damaged or destroyed in the fires. In addition, the total estimated reconstruction costs hover around $1.3 billion. President Biden on Friday issued a major disaster declaration for Maui County, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced additional disaster relief measures.
REALTORS Relief Foundation pledges $1.5 million relief grant
The Realtors Relief Foundation is giving out $1.5 million in disaster relief aid to the Realtors Association of Maui to support victims. Funds will be directed towards disaster victims’ housing payments, said an official statement.
“Maui’s recent wildfires have deeply impacted its residents, and we stand by them during this challenging time,” said RRF President Mike McGrew. “RRF grants aim to ease the path towards recovery, offering tangible aid to those rebuilding their lives. As real estate agents, we recognize that unity and community spirit are invaluable, especially when facing such trying circumstances.”
The National Association of Realtors will cover all administrative costs of the grant, ensuring 100% of all funds collected are distributed directly to disaster relief causes.
Brokerages jump in to help agents
In the aftermath of the Hawaii disaster, some brokerages stepped up as well. Keller Williams‘ public charity, KW Cares, is providing basic health, welfare, housing and transportation services to Keller Williams’ associates affected by the disaster in Maui.
“Amid the Hawaii wildfires, KW Cares is on a mission to support our agents who have been impacted,” said Alexia Rodriguez, CEO of KW Cares. “Our team remains in touch with our agents and leaders on the ground to offer support. We’re here to make a difference from emergency assistance to long-term recovery.”
As of now, the brokerage reported that 11 KW agents lost their homes to fire, while three agents lost homes belonging to their family members.
Other real estate organizations helping affected agents and their families are eXtend a Hand, Hawai’i Life and Anywhere, as reported by Real Estate News.
Meanwhile, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to highlight their immediate relief options for those affected by the Maui wildfires. The GSEs’ forbearance programs provide homeowners immediate mortgage relief and can last up to 12 months without incurring late fees or penalties.