The Root of the Problem
What, you may ask, is the root of the problem? After all, Hawaii's economy is strong. Unemployment is the lowest in the nation at around two percent. Anyone who wants a job in Hawaii can find one of some type. Many folks work two or more jobs just to make ends meet.
The real root of the problem are people like you and me - mainlanders who either move to the islands or buy property in the islands driving up the cost of housing each year and driving more and more locals into economic hardship. Many, if not most, of these mainlanders are independently rich or retired rich. They are consumers of society, not contributors to society. Most never work in Hawaii. They depend on others to service their needs.
People ask me why I don't move to Hawaii. For me, it's a matter of principal. Hawaii does not need more mainlanders investing in or moving to the islands. Visit Hawaii. Spend your money. Don't move there.
Renters Fall Victim to Greedy Property OwnersIt seems like every week Oahu property owners realize that they can evict renters and sell their homes, condominiums and sometimes entire apartment buildings for tremendous profits. After all, they have a place to live either in Hawaii or on the mainland. It's not their responsibility to find housing for those they displace. If they're locals, then shame on them for hurting other kama`aina.
Permanent Solutions Hard to FindPermanent solutions to the problem of Oahu's and Hawaii's homeless remain a mystery. It's easy to say that the islands need more affordable housing, but too often the few affordable housing units that are built still are way out of the reach of most of the homeless - even those who work one or more jobs each day.
If anything, the situation is bound to get worse. There are no signs of housing costs ever getting down to where most local residents can attain their dream of home ownership as their mainland contemporaries often can. Each year, more locals decide to move away from paradise just to afford to live.
Ultimately, and perhaps not too far in the future, Hawaii's visitor industry will suffer the consequences of this shameful situation. As locals leave and more mainlanders arrive, there are fewer people to work in the service industry. Someday soon there may be no one to change the sheets in your hotel, serve you your dinner or work in the ABC store. It can only be called a deplorable situation and, unfortunately, one with no answer on the horizon. For now, it remains just the other side of paradise.
Additional ResourcesMedian Cost of a Single Family Home on Oahu
Honolulu Board of REALTORS®
2000 - $295,000
2001 - $299,900
2002 - $335,000
2003 - $380,000
2004 - $460 000
2005 - $590,000
2006 - $635,000 (as of October 18, 2006)
Homelessness in Hawaii
An index of numerous articles from local and national newspapers regarding the homless situation in Hawaii.