When construction workers on Maui built tiny homes for a man’s family, it turned into a crowdfunded rehousing project

William Fincher (second from left) stands on part of his new home built and supplied by local builder Juan Ricci (center). Credit – Andreas Alfaro, GoFundMe

Under the weight of 24-hour news over the past few months, the recovery process in Lahaina has been progressing, one small house at a time.

William Fincher, the owner of two restaurants in the historic city of Maui that tragically burned last August, is receiving help from neighbors and friends to build a pair of tiny houses for his family of a wife, two children and two dogs.

Fincher lost both restaurants and his home in the fires, but within three or four days, local builder Juan Ricci was ordering materials to help the Fincher family build tiny homes. He did it all out of his own pocket until the construction team, including Fincher, Richie and some other friends, had to set up a GoFundMe to look for the money.

Javier Barbieri, a close friend, told Good Morning America in no uncertain terms that Fincher was Lahaina in every sense of the word, and he simply had to stay in order to help rebuild the city and restore its soul. Barbieri gave Venture space on his land to build.

With Barbieri’s help and Ricci’s instructions, the small houses began to come together. Fincher knew a little about a wood shop, but installing insulation, framing doors, and roofing were all skills he didn’t possess. Ritchie and his workers provided free labor and education.

“He (Ritchie) started building these homes out of the goodness of his heart and paid everything out of his own pocket. He trusts the money will come,” volunteer Andreas Alfaro wrote on a GoFundMe page that has so far raised $13,000 of its $100,000 goal.

Credit – Andreas Alfaro, GoFundMe

What started as a few men banded together to support their neighbors in Venture turned into a bold grassroots effort to raise money to build long-term tiny homes for displaced residents, and pay locals who lost their jobs in the fires to do so. With Ricci providing on-the-job training with 20 years of construction experience in Hawaii.

More stories from Lahaina: 5-year-old lemonade stand in Seattle raised more than $17,000 for Maui wildfire victims

“That’s the idea, raise some money and keep it going and start paying the people who were working,” Ritchie told GMA.

More stories from Lahaina: Oprah and Dwayne Johnson donate $1,200 a month to Maui wildfire survivors

“Lahaina is without a doubt the best place in the world, and it still is,” Fincher said.

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