By Rev. John Heidel
POSTED on StarAdvertiser.com: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2014
The housing crisis in Hawaii has increased to such an alarming situation that every citizen needs to respond in at least two ways.
First, become informed about the reality of this crisis, and second, become involved in implementing the solutions.
The interfaith organization Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) has been collecting information for a Nov. 15 Housing Summit that will be very helpful in both areas.
We have been interviewing local community leaders and a few people on the mainland and are ready to share the results.
What we’ve learned so far has highlighted the pervasive nature of this crisis in housing and has underlined an urgency that can no longer be ignored.
>> What: FACE Housing Summit
>> When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
>> Where: State Capitol auditorium
>> Details: Panels on affordable renting, affordable owning, the houseless situation, financial and economic concerns, transit-oriented development, renewable energy and housing, and the future of housing. Mayor Kirk Caldwell will be keynote speaker. Free.
There are many indications of why this needs immediate action:
» The city’s concept of “affordable housing” needs redefining.
The current definition is based on earning 80-140 percent ($6,388-$11,178 a month) of area median income (AMI), and yet 75 percent of those in need of housing earn less than 80 percent AMI (ranging from full-time minimum wage of $1,160 to $4,000 a month).
» The economic gap between earning potential and the cost of housing is increasing and is already at a state of emergency.
With rentals typically priced at $900-$2,500 for a studio or 1-2 bedroom, 75 percent of workers cannot find affordable housing.
» We have a diminishing “middle class” being forced out of affordable living. Hawaii’s housing market and retail shops show a changing culture that targets a clientele of the very rich while those of a middle to lower income are frozen out.
» More than 200,000 Hawaii residents are among the “hidden houseless” — living with family or friends and just one argument away from being without shelter.
» The profit motive of some developers and general inflation have increased the cost of housing beyond the reach of most residents.
» It is becoming increasingly difficult for our young people to remain in the islands.
» Many businesses are finding it difficult to attract and retain qualified employees.
Many of our congregations provide food and transitional shelter to the houseless, but we have always realized these efforts were only serving as Band-Aids to a much larger concern. Clearly, the real issue is affordability.
Perhaps one of the obstacles to our having a clear picture of the current crisis is the way some economists describe a healthy economy. Regularly, when offering an economic forecast, they refer to the rising cost of housing as a sign of a robust, growing economy.
We see this as an unethical barometer. Shelter should not be just a privilege for the rich but a right of every person.
All of us — including our city and state governments — have a moral and civic responsibility to provide housing for everyone — but especially for those in the lower income brackets and those with particular needs; i.e., victims of substance abuse and mental disabilities.
On Saturday, learn more about this housing crisis, and add your energy and experience to the implementation of some solutions.
Join this community-wide discussion of developers, government officials and concerned citizens to help solve our housing crisis.
The Hawaii Coalition for Immigration Reform (HCIR), sponsored by FACE, was awarded the ‘Ikena Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA). The ‘Ikena Award recognizes outstanding service to the public toward legal education. Claudia Lara and Stan Bain represented HCIR at the HSBA convention luncheon to receive the Koa bowl award on Oct. 24.
In other Hawaii immigration reform news, FACE/HCIR hosted the Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center and hosted briefing for State Senate and House staffers on marked licenses and other state-level immigration reforms.
FACE Maui will host the Mexican Consulate Saturday, November 15 at St. Theresa Church in Kihei. To schedule an appointment, please call: 1 (877) 639-4835.
Kilohana Angels Home Care Cooperative held a huge community celebration and fundraiser in September. Kilohana Angles is the only worker-owned cooperative on Oahu.
Kilohana Angels began as a vision and ministry of Kilohana United Methodist Church to provide training and job opportunities for an unskilled minority population of women to meet an identified need in the community.
For more information about Kilohana Angels Home Care Cooperative, contact Rev. Alan Mark or Tiala Toe’tu’u at (808) 722-4188.
In 2012, FACE’s Education Team fought to protect junior kindergarten, giving the state time to come up with a better plan for our keiki. In September 2014, FACE hosted Dr. Cliff Tanabe of the UH Education Department, Joan Husted former HSTA Exec Director and members of Parents for Public Schools to debate the value of “Question 4”, the constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be spent on private early childhood education programs.
At the end of the session, the group voted to recommend a “no” vote on the amendment. FACE leader Mary Weir explains her reservations about Amendment #4 in her October 28 Op Ed in Civil Beat.
“Proverbs From Our Families” Interfaith Service Draws Crowd To Contemplate Our Kupuna’s Needs For Long Term Care
Monday evening, October 27, members of 19 FACE congregations came together for an evening of shared stories of the wisdom and faith we have learned from our kupuna.
Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Evangelical, and UCC clergy led a powerful interfaith service weaving their own stories and those of their congregations together for a deeper understanding of our islands’ need for more affordable long term care for our elders.
Mahalo to the choirs and musicians!
This interfaith service was part of FACE’s Caring Across Generations Campaign. For more information, call Patrick Zukemura at 391-3464.
FACE values and supports early childhood education. We want our members and all the families in Hawaii to have universal access to high quality, developmentally appropriate preschool, but approving public money for private schools is not the right path.
Why are we concerned about this issue?
We are concerned about access and equity.
FACE Maui held a Candidate Forum October 14 for County Council candidates. The event was titled “Affordable Housing for Maui’s Working Families”.
FACE leaders Rev. Tasha Kama, Deacon Stan Franco, Napua Amina and Father Gary Colton helped lead the event which aired lived on Akaku. Thanks to Christ the King for hosting this important community event.
FACE leaders Rev. Joe Yun/Kahuluu UMC, Rev. In Kwon Jun/Aiea Korean UMC, and Natalie Nimmer/Harris UMC participated in a national faith-based community organizing training sponsored by the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing (PICO). The other church leaders pictured above are from Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and California.