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Is a $500,000 home affordable?

Editor’s note: The following column is a the first of a monthly column looking into the affordable housing issue on Kauai.

It will look at how we can all help to provide affordable housing, the government’s role in affordable housing, and try to answer the question, ‘Is it possible to develop truly affordable housing on Kauai?’

My wife Harvest and I first moved to the quiet little island of Kauai in 1974, when there was one traffic light on the entire Island and it was a pretty sleepy little place! After bouncing around the islands, we settled to raise our three sons in Kilauea in 1985.

We’ve gained a perspective on Hawaii that many people never get to see. When I first got into real estate in 1988, I sold a five-acre lot on the bluff overlooking Secret Beach for $225,000. Today, a piece that is less than 2 acres, with a nice house, just a couple of lots over, was recently listed for $30 million.

This is a quite frustrating for us — and it makes it so much more difficult for Kauai residents to own a home. This is one of the reasons we opened a new office, on Lighthouse Road, in Kilauea, 15 years later. For us to get back into the saddle at this stage of our lives, we knew that we needed to come up with something that would be far more fulfilling, something with a more noble purpose.

We teamed up with local girl Taylor Kaluahine Reid — home with her degree from the University of Hawaii — and eager to begin a career in helping her generation become Kauai homeowners

Our initial goal was to educate ourselves in all the programs and resources for first-time home buyers and affordable housing. After setting up our office like an information booth for Kauai residents, we quickly learned that there is absolutely no truly affordable housing available on Kauai.

“Affordable housing” is a complicated issue in Hawaii and across the nation. A home is considered to be affordable when a resident spends at or below 30 percent of their income on housing cost (i.e. rent or mortgage, taxes, etc.).

Due to the high cost of living and other factors, many families in Hawaii struggle to make ends meet. There are also no reasonable long-term rentals — with no end in sight.

We will be publishing this column monthly and our goal is to gather input from creative, skilled community members, who are passionate about this ongoing issue and are willing to come together, discuss, suggest and propose every possible option for Kauai.

Please help us to look at the affordable housing dilemma in its current state and — through working together and thinking collaboratively — come up with real solutions.

You can join the discussion on our HomeGrown Housing FaceBook page.

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Jim Edmonds is a 44-year resident of Hawaii and real estate broker at Emerald Isle Properties in Kilauea since 1988. Taylor Kaluahine Reid, born and raised on the North Shore, is a University of Hawaii Manoa graduate and a Realtor at Emerald Isle Properties.

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