Hawaii has a serious, unavoidable, and catastrophic problem when it comes to being able to provide affordable housing for low-income families and individuals.
As I consider moving back to Hawaii and settling down I’m forced to ask myself… with a master’s degree, a past history of earning over $100K per year, a handful of Microsoft certifications, 24 websites with over 110,000 pageviews per month…
Can I afford to go back to Hawaii and raise my family, and someday afford a house?
You know what?
I don’t know the answer.
That made me realize that there are 100,000 people (at least) just on Oahu that don’t have the resources I have, the education, the drive, the opportunities that I have – and they are now telling themselves and their daughters, sons and spouses at the dinner table…
“We’ll never be able to afford a house, apartment, or shack here in Hawaii… our home. Honey, kids… maybe it’s time to move to Arizona.”
Isn’t that sad? That’s sick, it’s so sad.
Hawaii has become a playground for the rich and the uncaring.
Isn’t it incumbent on the politicians to FIND a solution? Hasn’t the problem been devastating families in Hawaii for the last thirty years or so? How many kids, as they turn into adults decide to leave their childhood home because they could never afford to live there?
What is being done about the problem? I don’t mean tiny tax breaks or increases in welfare checks.
I mean something revolutionary has got to happen now in order to set things right.
If I was born on Oahu, worked all my life doing honest work, and facing the situation as it is – I would be banging on doors at the state office every single day to ask them – “When are you going to do something meaningful to resolve the housing problems we’re facing? Get off your ass and do what you’re supposed to be doing – fixing things!”
How long is Oahu going to teeter on the edge of being a world class vacation destination all the while ignoring the locals that grew up there that need affordable housing for their families today, yesterday, and 30 years ago?
Can Oahu have it all?
That’s the bigger question. Can Oahu find and use land for affordable housing AND keep the tourist attractions – the parks and beaches, free from low-income housing? For how long?
Something drastic needs to happen to resolve all the issues – a rezoning to allow tree-houses island-wide is something worth considering. As is a giant project to throw up affordable housing up and down the slopes of Tantalus or, away from town – Aiea’s hills.
What about Kahana? Something has to go.
The government owes the people a solution. Unfortunately Hawaii has been overbuilt with billions of dollars to favor just the people that “have” and pushed away the low-income populace, forcing them to live in places like Wahiawa and Makaha, and worse. Even then, do you know what a place costs in Wahiawa? Too much!
Maybe the solution is dedicating an entire Hawaiian island to low-income families and housing. Not one of the nice islands, but Oahu will do fine. Maybe the solution is buying up existing residential homes of the rich, leveling them, and creating efficient, low-cost housing units for the masses.
Whatever the actual solution, the impetus – the beginning of it all starts with banging on doors every day you wake up and not stopping until things change. Until you’re doing that – you might as well be bodysurfing Sandy’s. The same amount of attention will be paid to you. Politicians don’t care until someone is jumping up and down on their head.
Why isn’t the government coming up with solutions? Citizens aren’t forcing them to. Until you are banging on doors every single day and not letting the complacent politicians sleep, status quo will remain as it is.
What I can’t figure out… How does a politician in Hawaii wake up and smile for the press every day? Is that politician mentally stable?
How can someone smile, knowing that the very people that were born and raised on the islands can’t afford to own a simple goddamned one-room brick house?
HOW? It’s infuriating!
It’s a sad, sad state of Hawaii… and I believe it can still be fixed, but for how long? Radical, radical change is required – immediate change that creates solutions for the next 200 years, not just delaying until the following year.
Are there politicians out there that will attempt this? Nah. Have you seen anyone with bold ideas that change the entire status quo? No. Why? Because the rich are happy enough with the way it is!
Anybody growing a pair that you can see? Me neither. Anybody dropping political bombs and changing the entire landscape to help those in desperate need?
Nope, none of those kinds of warrior heroes in this state.
You know what I see from politicians? Over and over and over again they state and restate the problem, as if that means something. Nobody grabs the ball and runs with it – all the politicians just talk about the problems – thinking they’re showing the public that it’s really on their mind.
I say, stop running your mouth, and pick up the ball and start running. Run Forest run, and don’t look back until you’ve solved the problem and given Hawaii what it needs.
No ballsy politicians like that anywhere about are there? Nah.
To change it all the people of Hawaii have got to revolt and jump up and down on someone’s head to make them do something, or remove them from office and find someone among the ranks that will lead the charge.
Hmm, surf or revolt? Surf or revolt?
Surf mo betta, eh bra?
Article originally authored by Vern Lovic and any expressed opinions are his own.
Well Peter Kay, I assume you decided to leave the island since their is a comment that was made in 2009 and there is no follow up by you. One thing I have learned through the years if you seem passionate about something, then maybe you are the one who is supposed to fix it. If you are still in Hawaii, let me know your plans on how to change the housing issue and I will be willing to review it and if it is viable to help you to implement your plan
The comment in 2009 was from Vern, not me. I’m still here. I thank you for your offer to help. I don’t have any plans to change the issue but I would be extremely interested in hearing your story about where you have made positive impacts in housing markets, that’s for sure!
I’m a little confused why your site is “Living in Hawaii”, when really it seems your perspective is “Living on Ohau with mainland six figure expectations”. I have never had anything close to a six figure lifestyle. I don’t have a masters. Looking into living in Hawaii county, and chatting with people ooline there seems to be a vibrant community of people living alternative and off grid life styles and more traditional careers. Do you have any articles geared to a broader spectrum?
It seems most the jobs on islands on craigslist are pretty modest service industry. Do you know the comparison in cost of living and quality of life between Honolulu to Pahoa for an average person earning $30-40,000.00.
I see roommate listings on Craigslist much cheaper on many of the islands, from $400-1200 with most between 500-700, than in the New York Metro area or even the Jersey Shore. Any think to watch out for? Any advice?
Building affordable is a very simple problem to solve. you can solve problem by simply building your home out of the moat abundant natural resource in hawaii and IMO the best building material on the planet and that would be cinder Cinder crete homes are built with cinder cement and water and for a virtually indestructible home that will last for generations and built for a fraction of the cost because there is no shipping cost and no waiting for your boat to come in 80% of what you need to build your house is already there
I love this article, and it is so true. Rental prices are very high, food costs almost 3x as much, gas prices are higher. Monthly rent for a tiny studio cost about $1000, and it seems to rise from $500 – $700 with each additional room. I know that a college degree and a $50,000 salary here on Maui feels like poverty. $100,000 might be comfortable.
$100+ was comfortable, but honestly, we weren’t living like royalty by any means. I have come to a new figure for what it will take for my family to move back to Maui. We need to be making about $10,000 per month after taxes. This would allow us to live as we want to – meaning, a couple thousand saved per month, eating out whenever we wanted, flying back to Oahu a few times during the year (5?) and at least one trip back to the mainland to see family.
Thanks for your comment. Aloha!
I feel that way about California, too. Hawaii’s a different story, though. I wish you the best in your decision for your family.