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Marc Pascual

Mr. Donald

Writing for college

3 March 2018

Trouble In Paradise: The Truth Behind Homelessness in Hawaii

Hawaii is a well-known state for tourists to go and have a relaxing time with their loved

ones to go and see the beautiful sights Hawaii has to offer, like going on hikes, going to the

beach, and to enjoy eating delicious meals. Living in Hawaii seems like a dream come true to

most people. However, homelessness is a huge problem in Hawaii for several reasons. Also with

those who are homeless who have mental health disorders that can’t really obtain a stable

financial income for them to live off the streets. Lastly by the low incomes, educational

opportunities, and the lack of hygiene and transportation are linked to homelessness.

The dramatic increase in homelessness in Hawaii is very different in any other states due

to Hawaii’s high house prices. Asia Rosario was born and raised on Oahu her whole life until she

started a family with her husband. They decided to move to Las Vegas, Nevada due to the

inconvenience of getting a reasonable house on Oahu. "We just bought a place.. and our

mortgage is $1,600, but that a 1900 square-foot home. So you get more for your money

obviously here than in Hawaii" (Rosario). In the mainland every state can expand and build more

housings because of their massive supply and land, compared to Hawaii’s limited sources and

landscape. Those who could move out of Hawaii, and live on the mainland is, “more easily

relocate to a neighboring city or even state to find more affordable living spaces” (Marrone). Not

so much for those who live in Hawaii. It is easier to get a cheaper house in any other state than
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Hawaii, due to the increase Hawaii’s population each year, and also to its supply and demand of

limited inventory and supply of housings.

Annually oahu’s real estate markets are creating new heights as the demand of housings

exceeds the available supply of materials that the island can provide. The President and CEO of

Locations, Scott Higashi, say “Historically, summer months are when we see the most activity,

so we anticipate the competitive market to continue to drive prices up and consume inventory at

or near record pace over the coming months especially as interest rates remain below 4%”

(Higashi). The advertisements showing the beauty of Hawaii, are only showing the good parts in

Hawaii and not negative parts; instead show the rates of homelessness in Hawaii. The

advertisements for Hawaii won’t tell the public the fact that the increased cost of housings and

the limited supply of the area. Also, Homelessness is beginning to be a huge problem in Hawaii.

“More than 7,500 people live on Oahu's streets and beaches, but a large number of them are

native Hawaiians and they don't want to go anywhere” (Johnson). Hawaii’s demand of house is

begging to rise every year with the dramatic differences between 2016 and 2017 housing prices.

This change can make homeless people have a even harder time to buy or rent a house.

Home prices on Oahu continued to rise in 2016 and in 2017, with the average prices for

condominiums and homes reaching record-breaking percentages throughout the past five years

and is predicted to continue to rise in 2018 and in the future. “The median price of a

single-family home rose by 3 percent to $760,000, from $735,000 in 2016, while the median

price of a condo rose 5 percent to $410,000, from $390,000 in 2016, according to the sales data

analyzed by Locations” (Magin). Some people who have low income couldn't even afford a

house or even a condo throughout 2016. How could other people with low wages offord
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housings in 2017? The rise of the median price for condos and housings is only the beginning, in

2017, “The median price for an Oahu condominium rose 13.2 percent to a record $430,000 in

January, while single-family home prices climbed 5.8 percent to $772,000” (Magin). The last

two years, the rates of house prices continue to skyrocket and probably won't stop getting higher

throughout the years to come.

Other factors for the expensive cost of housings is the location. Tourists want to go to

Hawaii and live in a place where it's most convenient for them. Locations such as housings near

the beach, housings with a safe and friendly environment, also at a location near a historic and

cultural places throughout Hawaii. With the high amount of supply and demand, to throughout

these specific locations, the value of these houses is increased dramatically because of its current

competitive market environment. If an average single-family, has these locations, the house price

would be up to or more than $800,000. Most families can’t afford these types of prices let alone

pay for their transportation, food, and so forth.

Due to the high factors of Hawaii's house prices, some families found a solution to reduce

its house prices by living in multi-generational homes. Multigenerational homes are families who

live with at least two other generations, like those who live with grandparents. Multigenerational

homes can help families pay for their financial tasks, pay for mortgage payments, having a

retirement house, and even help with childcare around the house. “Hawaii ranks No. 1 in the

U.S. for the most multigenerational families living under the same roof, according to the U.S.

Census Bureau” (Marrone). Multigenerational housing is a well-known trend throughout Hawaii;

being on a small island, families should help each other with costs to financially stable one

another. Comparing Hawai to a state like California that is the most populous state in the
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country, and also comparing to the national average of multigenerational homes is unmatched.

“In 2015, it was reported that about 36,203 Hawaii households, or 11.6 percent, are

multigenerational, which is defined as households with more than two generations living under

the same roof. California is second at 8.2 percent; the national average is 5.7 percent” (Marrone).

Multigenerational housing is a great solution in Hawaii for families that need assistance for

financial costs, with grandparents that are able to help pay some of the costs and to not let

anyone become homeless.

Another aspect affecting homelessness in Hawaii is the number of people who have

mental health disorders. Throughout the nation, “20 to 25% of the homeless population...suffers

from some form of severe mental illness. In comparison, only 6% of Americans are severely

mentally ill” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Homeless people who have a mental

health disorder most often have a rigorous type of behavior, reaction, and mood in their

community, those who need medical help won’t often receive them due to financial reasons.

Throughout the years mental illness is becoming a common problem for each state. Statistics

show that “Mental illness was the third largest cause of homelessness for single adults

(mentioned by 48% of cities). For homeless families, mental illness was mentioned by 12% of

cities as one of the top 3 causes of homelessness” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).

Two of the common mental illnesses that homeless people have is called Post Traumatic Stress

Disorder is known as PTSD and Schizophrenia (National Coalition for the Homeless).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that happens to people who had experienced a dreadful

event, mainly those who saw an encounter of a person’s death or injury or experienced a type of

abuse in an individual’s childhood. Some of these events horrific events that they are,
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“Experiencing a life-threatening event or re-experiencing chronic exposure to abuse or the

aftermath of an event can lead to the development of PTSD” (Psychology Today). The cause of

people getting PTSD is unknown because some people won’t develop this disease if they

experience similar events as those individuals who developed getting PTSD; those getting this

illness is usually psychological and even genetically obtained. People becoming homeless can

develop PTSD, “Examples might include witnessing or being a victim of an attack, sexual

assault, and so forth...focus is when the traumatic event is homelessness itself; that is when the

experience of not having a home leads to PTSD” (Psychology today). The amount of people who

are homeless and with PTSD is still continuing to rise each year and it should stop.

Another common mental​ illness within the country is called schizophrenia. This illness is

a problem to society because “Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects about one

percent of the population and can commonly occur between the ages of eighteen to thirty-one

years of age. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations,

trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, when these symptoms

are treated, most people with schizophrenia will greatly improve over time” (Parekh). Oftenly,

schizophrenia can lead individuals to become homeless. The causes of those who are becoming

homeless are, “the lack of social connection, work skills, and ability to focus and communicate

clear ideas and goals leads to withdrawal from everyone and everything they may have held dear.

The schizophrenic may also show very little emotion or concern,” due to these behaviors,

schizophrenia is a hard challenge for loved ones who support them (Cheryl). Even though

Schizophrenia is part of the cause of homelessness, those who first receive it won't be affected
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overnight. They must accept the fact of needing help over their illness and get treatments to

prevent people from ending up on the streets.

Mental illnesses are affecting people’s ability to keep a job or even obtain one. Mental

illness can affect their performance or their resume by either having dramatic changes of

emotions, the use of substance abuse, or the lack of focus and concentration on their job. From a

public standpoint, some people will perceive and make stereotypes about them being,

“dangerous, unpredictable, responsible for their illness, or generally incompetent” (Corrigan).

Discrimination is also a huge problem for people with mental illness, it limits people with

these illnesses from being employed or getting educational opportunities. Some ways to fight

mental stigma is to not judge by appearances, instead, getting to know the person’s history.

Those who are mentally ill should show how they can impact their job position by proving

they're not dangerous to society and by allowing their job to investigate them. If they find some

type of record of assault or finding files of them handling or using illegal drug substances they

should obviously not get the job. But, if they are not doing any of these actions they should be

able to get a job just like those without mental illnesses.

Mental health is also affecting family and friend’s support, as well as relationships with

each other, which leads to lack of psychological low-income. In the United States, those who are

homeless and have mental illness often prevent themselves from having an understanding

relationship with family and friends. “This often results in pushing away caregivers, family, and

friends who may be the force keeping that person from becoming homeless. As a result of these

factors and the stresses of living with a mental disorder, people with mental illnesses are much

more likely to become homeless than the general population a study of people” (Library Index).
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Mental illness should not be excluded from families and friends but should be included with help

and guidance with those who are in desperate need of help.

There are programs that help people with mental health problems, especially in Hawaii.

One specific program that can help and support those who are mentally ill is called NAMI

Hawaii. This program can provide support groups for patients to understand what each patient is

going through and to find solutions to secure themselves with a stable job and income. This

program can help patients to come together and be friends. They can also share with one another

about what they are going through. The mental health support groups are free and absolutely

confidential in recovery for mental health problems. These actions can advocate hope and faith

for self-improvement.

The third aspect affecting homelessness in Hawaii is the lack of job opportunities and

having low income-rates. Chock has a master’s degree and has been teaching introductory

courses in the English department and also teaches other undergraduate programs for almost a

decade at the University Of Hawaii Manoa. However, despite all of her years in teaching, her job

does not take home the same amount of pay as another professor in other states. Howes guesses

an estimate that “Chock and other lecturers like her take an 80 percent pay cut” (Leong). The

fact that some teachers who teach the same course hours as other teachers and have different

wages is concerning. Teacher might not have enough money to own or rent a place, buy health

care, or even pay their college debt. But if everyone is still teaching at their low paying jobs, they

might be willing to work for less, and as a result, “jobs here pay much less than their mainland

counterparts. Expect a 20% cut in pay or more from what you’re making on the mainland”

(Kay). So, in reality, people working in Hawaii are suffering more because of the percent amount
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of pay cut and to the higher cost of living​. ​Some may argue that many people from the mainland

are paying as much as Hawaii residents pay for housing, but the true comparison is what

worker’s annual incomes is in Hawaii and in the mainland.

Other jobs may not support​​ one’s debt, according to Chris Komlar the number one

lowest paid jobs in Hawaii is working as an usher in movie theaters and has an average salary of

$20,557 a year. Also in his statistics,these are 23,110 of people working as a retail salesperson

earning are average salary of $28,470. Although these jobs offer them a financial income, these

types of jobs deserve a lot more than just the minimum.

During Roosevelt’s presidency, he established the Standards Act in 1938. In 1968, the

minimum wage reached $9.75. The reasoning behind minimum wages is to, “insure the

minimum standard of living necessary for health and general well being, without seriously

reducing employment rates” (Hashemi).

This law is valuable for workers around the U.S but is not good enough in today’s society

where workers need to pay more in today’s conditions where these types of jobs also create a

significant percentage of the homeless population, “44 percent of these homeless people did paid

work in the past month in a low-income job, and only 25 percent of homeless people are

currently employed—the vast majority of them making minimum wage” (Hashemi). Increasing

the minimum wage sound like a good solution for workers but it could have a negative impact on

workers as well, some companies may be unable to afford to pay all the workers at a higher price

as the minimum. This leads to a result of, “many jobs may be forced to fire workers because they

cannot afford to pay them at a higher rate. This could lead to stagnation in many companies

because there are not enough workers to do the job” (Hashemi). Moving and working in any
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state is problematic for people to get a job and have the ability to live and survive because of a

person's annual income. The following jobs like being a retail salesperson or a user are some jobs

people are forced to get because no other higher paying jobs would accept or hire them because

of individuals lack education.

The lack of education is a main source of poverty. Hawaii’s public school system sits

near the bottom of national rankings. In 2017, WalletHub ranked Hawaii number thirty-ninth

overall in education and number forty-three for “Quality.” Parents try to avoid Hawaii’s public

schools if they can but Hawaii’s private schools are in high demand, just like the high demand of

housings. In 2017, sending a child to a private school is expected to pay around $15,000 per

year. Also having two children in a private school is expected to pay around $30,000 per year but

including taxes, it will go up to $45,000 to $50,000 a year according to Peter Kay. Due to these

high costs in tuition families are forced to send their child or children to a public school.

Being homeless people have a hard time getting a job because of their hygiene. Being

presentable and hygienic is the standard requirement for getting a job. Workers need to show up

to their respected jobs and need to be presentable to the customers, having a tidy haircut, having

a clean uniform, and a fresh smell by showering. Each employee is representing their store and

company. If an employee is presented badly to a customer their the company and store will lose

money and profit.

It is also necessary for workers to provide an address. The lack of providing an address is

the main reason why a large number of homeless people are less likely to get hired. “Many

homeless people don’t even have a mailing address they can use on job applications or have an

address to a PO Box use ---Many employers would never consider a homeless person for a job
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opening” (Shay). Some ways for homeless people to solve this problem is that “some people lie

on applications or find a homed friend to provide an address for them” (Shay). If this employee

is caught in this lie, the company might have a high chance of firing him/her because of there

dishonesty to their job application.

The lack of transportation is also hurting homeless people on getting a job. In specific

jobs, their job applications are required to have their own dependable transportation like using

the bus, taxi, uber, or even owning a car. Besides owning a car, using the bus or using a taxis as a

main source of transportation might be unreliable for workers because of their work schedule and

they may not have the money to pay for the fare. Another problem homeless people need to face

is the distance between their “home” and their job. After getting a job, it might be too far away

and too expansive from their living location to go to work consistently.

Homelessness in Hawaii is increasing every year by the reasons of house prices with the

high supply and demand, mental illnesses illnesses with PTSD or schizophrenia , and low wages.

Citizens of Hawaii should help out around their community and to take action by feeding the

homeless helping them find jobs, and volunteer with places like habitat for humanity. Each

individual has a reason why they became homeless, either because they can’t afford a house, or

they have a mental illness and that no one is there to support or help them have a better life by

going to support groups like NAMI HAWAII, or even being unable to find a job that can support

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Work Cited

Barry, Jason. “Multigenerational Homes Gaining in Popularity.” ​Home - Hawaii News Now -

KGMB and KHNL,​ Hawaii News Now, 13 Nov. 2015,

Corrigan, Patrick W. “The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in

Mental Health Care.” ​The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating

in Mental Health Care​, Assosiation For Psychological Science, 1 Aug. 2014, .

Gonzales, Melody. “Oahu Single-Family Home Prices Hits Record $795k.” ​Home - Honolulu,

Hawaii News, Sports & Weather - KITV Channel 4,​ Island News KITV 4 ABC, 6 July


Hashiemi.” “Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?” ​Soapboxie​, Soapboxie, 23 Aug. 2017,

Kay, Peter. “12 Reasons You Should NOT Move to Hawaii!” ​Living in Hawaii - Moving to

Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island,​ Living In Hawaii!,​.

Kolmar, Chris. “These Are The 100 Lowest Paying Jobs In Hawaii.” ​These Are The 100 Lowest

Paying Jobs In Hawaii,​ Zippa, 4 Apr. 2018,​.
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Johnson. “All Work and No Job.” ​Hawaii Business Magazine​, Hawaii Business, 2 Mar. 2018,​.

Lane, Cheryl. ​Schizophrenia and Homelessness​. Schizophrenia , 12 Apr. 2018,

Leong, Lavonne. “All Work and No Job.” ​Hawaii Business Magazine,​ HawaiiBusiness, 2 Mar.


Magin, Janis. “Oahu Home Prices May Reach Just under $800K in 2018, Locations Says .”

Bizjournal,​ Pacific Business News,


Marrone, Gladys Quinto. “Industry Watch: Multigenerational Living.” ​Hawaii Home

Remodeling,​ Hawaii Home Remodeling,

“Mental Illness and Homelessness.” ​National Coalition for the Homeless​, 2009.

​Mental Illness and Homelessness,​ National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009,

Murar, Katie. “Condo Sales on Oahu Rise 7% as Median Price Hits New High .”​, Pacific Business News,


Parekh, Ranna. “What Is Schizophrenia?” ​What Is Schizophrenia?​, American Psychiatric

Association, Jan. 2017,

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Rosario. “These Are The 100 Lowest Paying Jobs In Hawaii.” ​These Are The 100 Lowest Paying

Jobs In Hawaii​, Zippa, 4 Apr. 2018,​.

Shay, Kylyssa. “Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?” ​Soapboxie,​ Soapboxie, 23 Aug.


Star-Advertiser staff Posted February 06, 2018 February 6, 2018 Updated February 6, 2018

5:21pm. “Median Oahu Condo Price Rises to Record $430,000.” ​Median Oahu Condo

Price Rises to Record $430,000​, Honolulu Star Advertiser , 6 Feb. 2018,