Mortgage Assistance Available To Maui Wildfire Victims As Developers Told To Stay Away


Federal housing officials have pledged to support people affected by the wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui as the state’s governor warns developers to stay away.

Officials from Ginnie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs issued a joint statement on Friday saying they are “committed to providing homeowners flexibilities and assistance so they feel the security of knowing they will have the option to return and rebuild when it is safe to do so.”

FHA-approved lenders doing business in Maui are encouraged to familiarize loan officers and operational teams with FHA’s 203(h) Disaster Mortgage, which provides up to 100% financing to rebuild in the same location or to buy a home in a new location.

FHFA, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has guidelines for single-family mortgages impacted by a natural disaster. Mortgage servicers are authorized to offer a forbearance plan for up to 90 days, even without establishing contact with the homeowner, if they believe the home was affected, according to officials.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Maui on Monday, where more than 1,000 federal personnel are on the ground to aid in response efforts.

Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell have appointed FEMA Region 9 Administrator Bob Fenton as the chief federal response coordinator for Maui.

In a statement released on Sunday, Biden said his focus is on the victims of the wildfires and their families.

“I know how profoundly loss can impact a family and a community and I know nothing can replace the loss of life. I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy,” Biden said.

Criswell said on “Face the Nation” that Biden’s trip will assure the people affected by the wildfires that the federal government supports them.

Some critics have called Biden too slow to respond, but a White House spokesperson said the President delayed his trip so he wouldn’t distract from rescue and recovery efforts, CBS News reported.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green is warning developers against predatory land buying.

During a press conference, Green said he has reached out to the state’s attorney general to explore options to create a moratorium on any sales of properties that have been damaged or destroyed.

“Moreover, I would caution people that it’s going to be a very long time before any growth or housing can be built and so you will be pretty poorly informed if you try to steal land from our people and then build here,” Green said.

Maui already had a housing crisis before wildfires ravaged the island. 

The pandemic housing boom sent a flood of wealthy buyers to the islands, pushing home sales worth more than $10 million six times higher in 2022 than in 2020.

The average home value in Hawaii is currently $836,677, according to Zillow.

Green declared a state of emergency over the lack of housing stock in July in response to worsening affordability.

Just days before the fire, officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would devote $21 million to support affordable housing for low-income Native Hawaiian families.

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