PAL PAPERS: But for the Grace of God …

The fourth Sunday of each month, we cover relevant topics on housing, sustainability, or current events that impact your life. We then take a deeper dive into these topics on our PAL KKCR Radio Show from 4 to 6 pm the next day – tomorrow, the fourth Monday of the month.

By now most people know that PAL Kaua‘i – Permanently Affordable Living – is flat out determined to solve our exploding housing tragedy! We’re actually working on many of our pressing Island issues. Not long ago I was speaking to a friend about the crisis of those who have nowhere to live. He said: “Surely you’re not going to waste your time trying to help the homeless too! I was blown away! That was so judgmental, so dismissive! With 13 words he totally changed my perception of who he is, his lack of compassion for his neighbors who are struggling, his cluelessness about the brutality of the economy we are facing and how many people are “Caught under the wheel” – often through no fault of their own!

For tomorrow’s KKCR PAL show, from 4 to 6 pm, we have the opportunity to have our only female Council Member, the omnipresent (that means being everywhere at once) Felicia Cowden to be our guest host. She has asked District 15 State Representative Jimmy Tokioka and Kaua‘i Housing Director Adam Roversi to join us. I asked her my standard joke: which “Clone” did she assign to this run this radio show? Felicia has been even more busy than normal trying to understand and help with the current and quickly intensifying tragedy of homelessness!

Among the ranging topics and solutions we will talk about tomorrow, we will be taking a look at the progress of a number of our recent affordable housing projects that are underway to house more of our people at Lima Ola (Eleele), Pua Loke (Lihue) and Huaka`i (Waimea).

You may learn quite a bit about how hard all layers of government, from the national to the local, are working together to address our housing challenges and discover available solutions. We will examine some of the national trends as well as some of the creative collaboration that has been underway to examine best practices to address the needs of the people who have been and are soon to be displaced from the comfort and security of having a place to put their head at night.

If you’ve every camped out for any period of time, you have some idea of how inefficient and unproductive it is to not know where you’re going to sleep, not know where your food will come from, not have clean clothes or a shower!

Imagine for a moment … what if that were your permanent situation. Your entire focus must be on your immediate needs. How can you even think about getting dressed up to apply for a job? It’s almost impossible to get out of that rut, once caught in it.

You probably know that the Federal and State Governments have put a moratorium on evicting tenants who cannot afford to pay their rent due to Covid. The Feds end their moratorium on June 30 and Governor Ige will end ours on August 6. But many of those tenants will still owe their back rent! So imagine how many people could be evicted then! I have seen estimates that there could be 30 to 40 million nation-wide! We have guesstimated up to 30,000 families Statewide! Kaua‘i already has the most crowded bedrooms in America! Where will they go? What will this do to our homeless count? What will this do to our homeless? Felicia’s been digging into what the status of our homeless is, how they are coping with the closure of our parks and what they face in the near future.

Tune in / call in (826-7771) tomorrow for answers and to make suggestions

We always try to uncover our current struggle, and the we work to offer some hope and solutions. Tomorrow, we will talk about the closing of the last homeless encampment in our parks, the emotional connections of the communities that formed during the time these folks had the opportunity to stay in the camps during covid, secure, unharmed and able to finally settle down for this stressful time, at least relatively – and how that opportunity and small degree of comfort and camaraderie can outweigh the offer of an individual housing solution by the County or our homeless service providers – particularly if that offer is in a different area of the island. We’ll talk about Kaua‘i Rent Help, etc. Felicia has even visited the Waianae and Waimanalo homeless encampments on Oahu – to discover different approaches and solutions to inform out discussions.

Real Estate is changing frighteningly quickly on Kaua‘i – even to me, a 33 year Broker who has seen the ups and downs! But never “UPS” like this! The other day I looked and there were 34 houses under 1.5 million for sale on the entire Island! There were 41 only 5 days earlier. 656 were sold under 1.5 since 1/1/20! So that is less than one month inventory! Then what? My mechanic said this is the new “Fantasy Island”!

The cheapest house on the Island was $544,000! A 693 Square Foot 1 bedroom on a postage stamp 3,524 SF of land. For you a special deal! About 80% of all sales now are for cash. And rents are soaring too! It’s not really fair to blame the homeowners for taking advantage of their opportunities but what are our local families going to do? Where are they going to go?

Before Covid, experts would say that over half of all residents on Kaua’i were one paycheck from the street! Imagine how that has changed now.

These are our Neighbors, our Friends, our Relatives! OK … Some may have drug problems, some may have health problems, some may even have mental health issues, maybe there are even a few ne’er-do-wells among them. But do you really believe that even ONE of them deserves to live in the street! Or in a car! We know a very smart lady who bought a bigger car so she and her daughters could live in it. We understand that over 8,000 people left the Island last year – a majority of whom were local. With a population of only 72,000, how long can this last? Who’s gonna do the work when they’re all gone? And we know that some of our suicides are based on homelessness … and therefore hopelessness.

Would YOU wanna live in the street … if a medical emergency drained your bank account, or … ?

The truth ? One homeless person – sheltered – saves us money in terms of emergency services (like the Police, the Emergency Room, crime, drugs, etc.) and economic impact. Not to mention the comfort and security of our communities and our social fabric. And – if, on a tiny Island, we have even an ounce of compassion left for our Neighbors – then must we not care for those who fall between the cracks?.

With your input, between 4 and 6 pm tomorrow, this will be a lively and informative show! Call 826-7771. We always try to offer some hope, some solutions.

You can find out more about PAL Kaua‘i, and even help us do this noble work. Visit our website at PAL-Kaua‘i.org or call (808) 738-6706.

TOGETHER … WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

•••

Jim Edmonds, president of PAL (Permanently Affordable Living) Kaua‘i, can be reached at Jim@PAL-Kaua‘i.org. The PAL Kaua‘i mission is to provide homes and sustainable-living solutions, within reach, restoring hope for the people of Kaua‘i.

4 Comments
  1. james June 27, 2021 7:35 am Reply

    So I never did figure out what solutions you are proposing after reading your lengthy letter. It basically was a “the sky is falling” chicken little call to arms opinion piece about the high price of housing, which, in our capitalistic economic system, is set by the law of supply and demand. If charitable organizations want to provide solutions, I applaud that wholeheartedly. However, I am adamantly opposed to using tax dollars to provide housing to those who can’t afford to live here. There are too many other uses for our tax dollars that benefit all residents, like roads and infrastructure, not just a select few. Not everyone who wants to live here can afford to do so, just like other high-priced areas with high housing prices, ie San Francisco, New York City, etc. Do not use our precious tax dollars to bail-out those who can’t afford to live here.


  2. Tonald Drump June 27, 2021 11:19 am Reply

    I went to a funeral in Eleele in 1987.

    I used to know someone in Eleele. They had a barbell weight set or gym in their garage.

    How is Eleele? Pretty good? Things have changed. Do they still have McDonald’s in town?

    Good old Frappuccino. And Big Mac. Last time I had one was in 1987. I hardly eat those any more.


  3. Tonald Drump June 27, 2021 11:41 am Reply

    See you around Eleele. And say hi to my mom. She lives in town.

    Howzit!


  4. jojo June 29, 2021 5:51 pm Reply

    County of Kauai…… we need affordable housing,,,, we need to support our farmers…. Please listen to the public and reconsider allowing 1 or 2 -ADU’s on Ag zoned land. Part of the agreement can be evidence of real farming occurring. It is extremely difficult to have 35,000.00 annual farming income to be eligible for Kauai’s current “Farm worker Housing options” . Many times people need to work other job’s to obtain health insurance and benefits in addition to farming at home.

    Many ag zoned lots have adequate infrastructure- county water meter, access roads, sufficient septic system in place. This option would help to increase affordable housing and support farming. There was a concern in the past that contributed to the stoping of
    all ADU’s on Ag zoned lots due to people allowing short term rentals- this has been better monitored and is not a current concern.

    With the increase in affordable housing concerns and farming concerns- this is a great solution…


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