WAILUA — A family of three disabled Wailua residents have packed their belongings neatly in a corner of their living room.
Their service animals Kona and Volcom appear free of worry and unaware of the situation, as their owners desperately search for a rental on their meager income.
Kristen Shakespeare, who suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder, says she and her two roommates have until Nov. 3 to find housing. Otherwise, they will be homeless.
“We’ve been trying to find a house and every Realtor says you basically have to pretend you have $5,400 because you can’t get in without first and last month’s rent,” she said. “We make $2,500 together as an ohana, but we can’t get into a place. This is why there’s homelessness on the island.”
Shakespeare said they were turned away from every rental they applied for Since Sept. 11 because they weren’t able to meet an income to rent ratio of three to one.
“I’m backed into a brick wall,” she said. “What will we do with our stuff?”
Michael Miyake, Garden Island Realty owner and principal broker, said the 3-to-1 income-to-rent ratio is an industry standard for landlords and property managers.
“(Renters) have other expenses like electricity and food, and we need them to have a safe margin, so they can have enough monthly income for their expenses,” he said. “There’s really a shortage of rentals on the island.”
Betty Schultz, one of Shakespeare’s roommates, is 64, suffers from PTSD, Hepatitis C, fibromyalgia and also uses a wheelchair to get around.
“I can’t eat; I can’t sleep,” said Schultz, who has been on disability since 1991. “It’s terrible. Even though we bound together because we’re family and we try to help it each other out, it still isn’t enough.”
Schultz said it’s been a constant search for the trio since Sept. 11, one day after their landlord announced to them that their rental home was being sold.
“This is terrible for my condition,” she said. “We’ve tried everywhere to get in.”
Her husband, Rodney Schultz, lives on $400 a month pension and suffers from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and scoliosis.
“It’s hard for me to think at times,” he said. “I can’t lift things. I just wish we can move in to affordable housing. We don’t know what to do. We can’t live on the beach with my wife in a wheelchair. There’s just no way.”
The trio have reached out to Kauai Economic Opportunity for help.
“I believe I spoke with these people,” said Stephanie Fernandez, KEO homeless and housing director. “I believe the transitional coordinator is getting back with them. They also spoke with the shelter director. I know they’re reaching out, and my staff will call them.”
If Shakespeare cannot find a home by Nov. 3, her alternative would be to seek shelter at KEO. Unfortunately, having two service animals is against KEO policy.
“We will allow one service animal if they have proper documentation and that this is truly a service animal, so a letter from the doctor that connects the disability to the need for the animal,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez recommended the Wailua family get on the affordable housing wait list, which is backed up by two to three years.
“You still need to get on those wait lists because anything can happen,” she said. “People on those wait lists — their lives change. Some move off island; some people unfortunately pass away, some other people make alternative decisions in their life. We’ll do the best that we can, but our staff will bring them in to do an intake.”
Time is running short, Shakespeare said.
“I’m having to pack and move and nowhere to go and thinking how big of a tent we need to get,” she said. “Is Betty going to have to sleep in the car? Do we take turns and get into a shower somewhere?”