Ask The Mayor

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Aloha Mr. Victorino, we would like to know what has been done to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on Maui so far. Mahalo.

A: Mahalo for your question, and I’d like to quickly remind the public that information on the coronavirus may change at any time so this information may differ from what is currently being reported. The state Health Department has taken the lead on providing daily updates to the public on COVID-19, so I highly recommend you visit its website. To subscribe for email updates, visit health.hawaii.gov/news/covid-19-updates/.

My office receives daily updates from the Gov. David Ige’s office and Health Department, which are actively preparing for possible cases with help from the County of Maui and other state and federal partners, including the medical community in Hawaii. As of Friday, the Health Department is now capable of in-state testing for COVID-19 and, on average, results can be ready within 24 to 48 hours of a sample being collected. This will be a major help to our prevention and mitigation response efforts.

The Maui District Health Office, led by Dr. Lorrin Pang, also has been a resource for my administration and his office continues to monitor for possible cases. Our emergency response partners, including officials from the visitor industry and utilities companies, also have been receiving regular updates and guidance on dealing with concerns related to the corona-virus.

Kahului Airport plans to receive additional hand sanitizer stations and all airlines are making extra efforts to sanitize their equipment and stations and have ramped up cleaning of planes. Additionally, my office will be ramping up public messaging in partnership with the state DOH to keep our community informed and protected.

While our county staff and partners continue to make preparations, I would like the public’s assistance in detecting and minimizing COVID-19 within our community. This includes preparing a family plan and storing a 14-day supply of food, water and other necessities for your loved ones and pets, as well as a three-month supply of any needed medication.

I do want to discourage residents from hoarding supplies, though, and asking everyone to remain calm. Simple steps we can all take to help limit the spread of illness include washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, covering your mouth with a sleeve or a mask when coughing or sneezing and staying home when ill.

I want to mahalo all of our partners in Maui County and across the state for remaining vigilant and committed to keeping our communities safe.

Q: Aloha mayor. While we are happy the Section 8 assistance waitlist opened up in January, my family is worried about the high costs of rent on Maui and whether the vouchers will be enough. Could you look into this and help explain the county’s process? Mahalo!

A: Mahalo for your question. I asked my staff and our Housing Division Administration for assistance to help provide you with an answer. The County of Maui evaluates the payment standards on an annual basis to ensure compliance with Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Per the release of fiscal year 2020 Fair Market Rents by HUD, the County of Maui is within the FMR ranges deemed acceptable. In fact, the County of Maui’s payment standards are based on the higher end of the fair market values.

When determining the rental amount, the rent for a unit proposed for Section 8 assistance is compared to the rent charged for comparable unassisted units in the same market area. In order for a unit to be eligible for the program, the dwelling unit must have reasonable rent and the rent amount must not be in excess of rents charged for similar unassisted units.

From our firsthand experience, based on those individuals, who were recently issued vouchers in addition to those individuals who are moving, they are able to locate units within our payment standards.

For more information and assistance, call the Section 8 Department at 270-7751 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/251/Housing-Division.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.


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