NOT IN HAWAI‘I
Hawai‘i currently has the highest median home value in America at $619,000 (979,000 for Oahu 2021). At the same time, Hawai‘i has the highest cost of living, houseless, unemployment, and the lowest relative wage in the Nation. The American Dream of home ownership is a nightmare for most of the people of Hawai‘i. This is especially true for our host culture, the Native Hawaiian community, who suffer from the lowest home ownership rate of any ethnic group in Hawai‘i.
Why are the people of Hawai‘i suffering and deprived from such a fundamental need? The answer is simple economics: supply and demand. Limited supply and high and growing demand pushes home values higher. While many are forced to leave the islands due to increasing cost and relative declining quality of life, there are more who move to Hawai‘i at a tune of 55,0000 a year. In addition, those who are moving here are often better able to afford to rent and purchase homes then the people they are replacing, putting upward pressure on rentals and homes. In addition, there are many investors who want to take advantage of Hawai‘i’s increasing land and home values putting additional upward pressure on both land and home values.
As long as Hawai‘i continues to be one of the most sought after places to visit and live in the world, we will always have this supply and demand phenomenon with increasing demand, decreasing supply, and higher real estate values. Though we cannot control of the winds of an incoming storm, we can adjust our sails.
(1) Require a significant percentage of each development, over a certain number, to be affordable and to build such before or at the same time as the rest of the development. In addition, there would be substantial repercussions for developers for non compliance to agreements.
(2) Qualifying for affordable housing programs (renting or purchasing) must be tied not only to actual residency, but also residency with a minimum time requirement, such as 5-years or more.
(3) The department of Hawaiian Home Lands must be adequately funded so they can help address these issues within the Native Hawaiian community.
Government must step outside of the box and be innovative in addressing this issue. Government must consider all options, from traditional government subsidies and political policy support to collaborating with government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to find affordable housing solutions for the people of Hawai‘i. If we can work together, get creative, and get serious about solving this issue, solutions will come and more families will get into homes.