Land­lord sum­mit fo­cuses on find­ing so­lu­tions


yrone Spell­man knows first­hand the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of find­ing a place to call home. He’s had to move more than 20 times in the past 19 years.

“I know what it’s like to not feel safe, se­cure and sta­ble — and I’m cer­tainly not alone,” he said. “We need to take a deeper look at af­ford­able hous­ing and cre­ate more hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who are most vul­ner­a­ble. Ev­ery­one de­serves to feel safe and se­cure.”

Spell­man was one of sev­eral pan­elists who spoke dur­ing the sec­ond an­nual Maui Land­lord Sum­mit, which was held July 11, at the Maui Beach Ho­tel in Kahu­lui. Prop­erty own­ers and prop­erty man­agers were in­vited to at­tend the free event to learn how they can help re­duce home­less­ness on Maui by mak­ing more rentals avail­able to those who need them the most.

Find­ing safe and af­ford­able hous­ing on Maui is a sig­nif­i­cant hur­dle for low-in­come or home­less in­di­vid­u­als and

Tfam­i­lies. While they may be ap­proved for a sub­si­dized hous­ing pro­gram through a lo­cal non­profit agency or have a Sec­tion 8 voucher, many face the dif­fi­culty of find­ing a land­lord who will ap­prove their rental ap­pli­ca­tion.

With that in mind, for the sec­ond year in a row, the Real­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of Maui joined forces with the County of Maui, the Of­fice of the Governor and sev­eral so­cial ser­vice agen­cies to bring land­lords and prop­erty man­agers into the same room as the agen­cies that as­sist Maui’s hous­ing-chal­lenged res­i­dents.

“Maui has a se­vere hous­ing short­age, and as a leader on hous­ing is­sues, the Real­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of Maui feels it is our duty to raise aware­ness, ed­u­cate oth­ers and help find so­lu­tions,” said RAM Govern­ment Af­fairs Di­rec­tor Lawrence Car­ni­celli. “This may be only one step, but we, as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, are try­ing to do ev­ery­thing we can.”

This year’s sum­mit be­gan with some en­cour­ag­ing news from Scott Mor­ishige, the governor’s co­or­di­na­tor on home­less­ness.

“There have been a lot of changes since last year,” he said, not­ing that, for the first time in eight years, home­less­ness has de­creased in Hawaii, and that in­cludes a 22 per­cent re­duc­tion in Maui County.

Mor­ishige at­trib­uted the de­cline to changes at the state level, as well as com­mu­nity en­gage­ment ef­forts like the Maui Land­lord Sum­mit.

“Events like this are crit­i­cal to keep us mov­ing for­ward,” he said. “We are start­ing to turn the tide and see the light at the end of the tun­nel.”

Mor­ishige’s an­nounce­ment was fol­lowed by re­marks from Maui County Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Hu­man Con­cerns Di­rec­tor Carol Reimann and Maui Home­less Al­liance Co-Chair Maude Cum­ming, as well as two lively panel dis­cus­sions fea­tur­ing land­lords, ten­ants and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from agen­cies that pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port and other ser­vices to Maui’s hous­ing-chal­lenged res­i­dents.

One of the pan­elists, Brandy Aki, a full-time prop­erty man­ager and prin­ci­pal bro­ker of Emer­ald Club Realty, Inc., was hon­ored as this year’s “Hous­ing Hero” by the Maui Home­less Al­liance. The “Hous­ing Hero” award is given to a land­lord or prop­erty man­ager who ac­tively works with so­cial ser­vice agen­cies to find rentals for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who are home­less or at im­mi­nent risk of be­com­ing home­less.

“I was taken by com­plete sur­prise,” she said. “I am a strong be­liever in pay­ing it for­ward. Help­ing is what I do ev­ery day and I am hon­ored to re­ceive this award.”

Aki said she was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in one of the sum­mit’s panel dis­cus­sions.

“As a full-time Re­al­tor and prop­erty man­ager for over 22 years, it was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to share my knowl­edge with oth­ers and hope­fully en­cour­age them to sup­port these pro­grams,” she said.

Like so many oth­ers in at­ten­dance that day, Spell­man hopes that Maui will find ways to end home­less­ness — and soon.

“With your help, no one needs to be home­less,” he said. “We don’t have to wait un­til the end of the tun­nel … the light is al­ready here.”

The Maui Land­lord Sum­mit was un­der­writ­ten by a grant from RAM and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. Par­tic­i­pants in this year’s event in­cluded RAM, the Of­fice of the Governor, Of­fice of the Mayor, Maui County Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Hu­man Con­cerns, Maui Home­less Al­liance, Le­gal Aid So­ci­ety, U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, Ka Hale A Ke Ola Home­less Re­source Cen­ters, Fam­ily Life Cen­ter, Women Help­ing Women, Catholic Char­i­ties of Hawaii, Men­tal Health Kokua and Maui Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­nity, Inc.

Do you know a RAM mem­ber who should be rec­og­nized for their con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­nity? If so, send your story idea to Sarah Ruppenthal at mis­s­rup­


RAM Chief Staff Ex­ec­u­tive Terry Tol­man (from left), RAM mem­ber Brandy Aki and RAM Pres­i­dent Mar­i­lyn Grif­fin are all smiles as Aki ac­cepts the Maui Home­less Al­liance’s “Hous­ing Hero.”

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