On Friday, Hawaii Governor Josh Green threatened out-of-state home owners in Maui who resist helping the victims from the recent devastating wildfires with a vacation rental moratorium.

Green said he would “drop the hammer” and use emergency orders to force them to turn their short-term rentals marketed to tourists into long-term units for those who lost their homes to the wildfires.

From The Hill:

The town of Lahaina on western Maui was nearly entirely wiped out by the wildfire, and 100 people were killed. It was the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in at least a century.

Green said the legal “hammer” would be reserved until at least January, and only if enough homeowners refuse to sign up for a voluntary program to convert their rentals. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program compensates homeowners by making up the difference between short-term and long-term rental rates.

Maui County is also considering tax breaks for homes in the program, he said.

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“So there is no reason at all for people not to take this opportunity provided they want to be a helpful part of the solution,” Green said in a press conference.

The governor said about 6,300 people are still without homes due to the wildfires, and the state aims to convert about 3,000 short-term rentals into long-term. There are 13,000 short-term rentals on the island, but estimates range up to 25,000 including illegal rentals.

“So we really only need to get about 10 percent, maybe 12 percent, of all the available short term units on Maui,” Green noted.

The interim long-term housing would last about two years, he added. The first 2,000 units would be covered by FEMA, with the remaining 1,000 covered by the state and philanthropic efforts.

The Hawaii governor said it is currently costing $350-$500 a day to house one family in a hotel room, once food and services are included.

Watch the full press conference:

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