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Why we should care about

Affordable Housing & Homelessness

Top cited reasons for locals leaving Hawaii

  • High cost of living, specifically housing costs

  • Lack of job opportunities suited to the individual's skills & interests

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With rent for a 1-bedroom apartment at $1,700, a 13% YOY increase, Honolulu median rent is now the 19th most expensive among the 100 most populous American cities

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Peaking at $1.05M in August, Oahu has set a new record high for single-family home median prices almost every month in 2021.

 

In the city of Honolulu, per Redfin, the average median sale price is $1.36M, a 27% YOY increase.

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Affordable Housing:

This is possibly the most complex and urgent issue to tackle. Deeply tied to almost every other issue, the lack of affordable housing is an issue that needs to be solved in a systemic way. We have to think about our rising housing costs, the impact it will have on our kūpuna with fixed income, and start taking more aggressive action.

At its core, we have a supply & demand problem. 

  • Diversifying the economy via key industries will help increase our average median income.

  • Refining building permitting processes will help increase supply of on-island homes to meet the growing demand.

  • Improving health care quality and access on neighbor islands will allow us to create additional communities. This will bring more professions to our neighbor islands, improve local schools through teacher recruitment, and therefore encourage families to move to neighbor islands where more affordable housing can be built.

Hawaii has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the US

  • 45.6 homeless individuals per 10,000 population 

  • 6,412 total individuals

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Over 50% of folks experiencing homelessness in Hawaii are unsheltered

Homelessness:

There will always be a percentage of those who are homeless who don't want to be helped. But there are many more who just need a helping hand to get the kickstart they need to get back on track.

It is estimated that 25% of our homeless population has a serious mental illness, and 45% has any mental illness. While telehealth has changed our access to care, 37% of our population still lives in a mental health professional shortage area. We have an obligation to take care of the most vulnerable members of our society. With proper, adequate, and affordable health care, we can make a material impact on the number of individuals who end up homeless. 

In addition to addressing gaps in available mental health services, we must also do everything in our power to provide adequate transitional housing and services for our homeless community. We must provide the resources needed to help each individual rebuild their life, career, and social relationships. 

Relevant Experience

Department of Housing & Homelessness (HOU), City & County of Honolulu, Volunteer

  • Worked closely with HOU on transitional housing projects (i.e. villages) 

 

The Pantry by Feeding Hawai'i Together, Board of Advisor

  • Helped with different grant opportunities to support food education, specifically through a unique app that would personalize food shopping recommendations based on health risk & lifestyle

"The true measure of any society
can be found in how it treats its
most vulnerable members."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Let's Talk Story

I'd love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this topic.

Please email me at valerie@valeriecwang.com.

Together, we can make a difference.