Kauai housing data shows income fell over last 5 years

If the U.S. Census and a state housing study are correct, the median family income on Kauai fell between 1997 and 2000.

The Hawaii Housing Policy Study Update (1997) puts Kauai median family income at $53,700, and the Census reported it dropped to $45,020 by 2000.

Nearly concurrently, both Census and state entities are updating housing data, and may be calling or visiting local residences.

Census employees from yesterday, Monday, June 2, began visiting housing units chosen at random. The visits, part of the biennial American Housing Survey, run through the end of September.

The state study is being updated with telephone surveys done by SMS Research out of Honolulu, according to Ken Rainforth, county executive on housing in the Offices of Community Assistance.

Hersh Singer, chairman of SMS, said results should be available in July or August.

The data suggests that over 400 homes a year were built on Kauai over the last three years of the 20th century, an explosion that continues into the third year of the new century.

The island’s housing inventory grew by over 1,200 units between 1997 and 2000.

The local study, conducted first in 1992, contains computer-model tables projecting housing needs out until 2020. It shows a 2003 estimate of $175,000 for an “affordable” home on Kauai, while projecting $200,000 for an actual median sales price.

For the first four months of this year, the island’s median home sales price was $345,000, rocketing skyward from $250,000 a year ago, according to figures supplied by the Kauai Board of Realtors.

In 1997, of 24,112 total housing units, 17,051 were single-family residences, and 10,008 of those were of the three-bedroom variety (please see accompanying chart).

Monthly rents ranged from $450 to $760 for apartments, and $790 to $950 for homes. The average monthly mortgage payment was around $1,150, ranging from $968 to $1,448 depending on age of home and mortgage.

By contrast, 2001 Census Bureau data showed that across the country renters paid only around $633 a month in rent, and homeowners paid just $686 on monthly mortgages.

One of the questions on the ongoing national survey asks how many people find it financially difficult to buy a home. That sound you heard was many hands raising on Kauai.

The 2000 Census information showed that 1,224 Kauai families lived in “poverty” status in 1999, and that half of those were single-mother households.

Kauai mortgages as reported in the 2000 Census ranged mostly from $1,000 to $1,500 a month, with 3,615 homes on the island owned outright, with no mortgages attached.

In 2000, there were 25,331 housing units, of which 17,826 were single-family residences. There were over 7,000 home mortgages on the island in 2000, and 7,735 renter-occupied units.

That same year, those paying rent mostly paid between $750 and $999 a month.

Two-bedroom rentals were going from $700 to $1,600 a month in last week’s The Garden Island classified section.

The local study has been used by the county Housing Agency to plan future rental and for-sale projects, Rainforth said.

“It’s been a really good tool for us to see where we’re at with our current housing situation,” and can be used for housing planning purposes, Rainforth said.

A computer housing model is used to predict future housing needs. “We’ve used it in the past, and it’s been a good tool to show us what level of income is in most desperate need for housing units, what type of units people want, where they want, when they want it, and how much they’re able to afford for different units for both rental and for sale,” Rainforth said.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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