Affordable housing crisis: How you can help

Editor’s note: The following is a monthly column looking into the affordable hosing 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?”

Finding “truly” affordable housing on Kauai is an almost impossible task ! Why? Plain and simple … there are none!

A “truly” affordable home, based on the average income of a Kauai household, would be around $250,000! Which is sad — since the median sale price is $698,000! (June 2017.)

There are many reasons, including the cost of construction, but one of the main causes of this predicament is often called gentrification — we’re calling it resortification. Scholars define this as the shift of more affluent visitors in our neighborhoods as “amenity migrants,” or people (who often own multiple homes across the globe) seeking part-time or permanent residence in areas where they can gain access to higher quality natural or cultural resources. Sound familiar ? We don’t blame them … Kauai is wonderful! But our local people can’t compete with them financially.

w The effects are unanticipated, growth-related stress on the capacity of local social and health delivery systems, environmental and cultural resources and residential house supply.

In Hawaii, the purchasing power of these “affluent amenity migrants” — and the homes they can afford — create housing prices that override normal market conditions. This stifles the ability of the local people to become homeowners — or even to find anywhere to live.

w The implications of this pattern is seriously threatening the normal vibrancy, local history and “sense of place” of our close-knit communities and families — especially in the resort areas.

We must change this paradigm now … and figure out how to provide TRULY affordable housing!

You can help:

w If you have rental property … lower your rent if you have local tenants. We know. It’s expensive. And hard to be a landlord. But try to imagine what it’s like for local tenants — many of whom are being forced to leave the island. And check with the county about property tax breaks for those who offer affordable rentals. In addition, there are many benefits to renting your properties to HUD applicants (check county guidelines).

w If you have property or money — develop, convert or buy property now and do your best to provide affordable housing for people who have spent their lives here.

w If you want to sell a property — do your best to help local people — if they want to buy it.

w Call your County Council members and tell them how you feel.

w Call your state representatives and tell them how you feel.

w Tell them to pass laws now, to make it easier and quicker to build — if affordable.

w Visit our HomeGrown Housing FaceBook page, and take part in the community conversation and for ideas for truly affordable housing in Hawaii. Feel free to use any points from any of our information to bolster your efforts to communicate with others or in your conversations or emails.

Be sure to check our next column: “Affordable housing crisis: What can the government do to help.”

Contact list

County Council members:

Mel Rapozo, chairman: 241-4095, mfrapozo@kauai.gov

Ross Kagawa: 241-4094, rkagawa@kauai.gov

Arthur Brun: 241-4096, abrun@kauai.gov

Mason K. Chock: 241-4098, mchock@kauai.gov

Arryl Kaneshiro: 241-4093, ajkaneshiro@kauai.gov

Derek S.K. Kawakami: 241-4097, dkawakami@kauai.gov

JoAnn A. Yukimura: 241-4092, jyukimura@kauai.gov

Kauai legislators:

Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi: 586-6031, senkouchi@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Nadine K. Nakumura: 586-8437, repnakamura@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Dee Morikawa: 586-6280, repmorikawa@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. James Kunane Tokioka: 586-6270, reptokioka@Captiol.hawaii.gov

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Jim Edmonds is a 44-year resident of Hawaii and a 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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