On the houseless – take the drivel to your beer buddies

“We’re going to close up our hotel and take our business somewhere else where the taxes are lower!” said No Hotel On Kaua‘i Ever.

Ditto for luxury vacation rentals, and so many other property owners who don’t live here, don’t rent to local residents, and can afford to pay more.

So why is our government operating from a mindset of scarcity?

According to a recent TGI story, the County Housing Agency is asking the Council for budget support for more staff to help manage the complaints and inquiries and to prepare a comprehensive plan. Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Council Member Bill De Costa meanwhile are pushing back against that request and instead promoting the notion of “safe zones,” or homeless encampments run and regulated by the county.

Instead of arguing over whose idea is better why not do both?

And then do more.

The lack of basic shelter for our residents, friends, and neighbors should be declared the disaster it is, and we must use every tool available and then go out and get more and use them too.

Hundreds of people are living on the streets, in the bushes, on the beach, and yes – under bridges. We have hundreds more sleeping on couches, in carports, and in cars.

Yes, we need more staffing for our housing agency. And yes, we need to support safe and sanitary temporary encampments in suitable locations – because there’s literally nowhere else for people to go.

I have a friend who works full-time but because of the extreme shortage of rentals, lives in his van. Routinely, he’s awakened in the night by landowners or police and told to move along. He drives to the next side-of-the-road sleeping spot, only to be told again a few hours later – move along. He’s not doing drugs, playing loud music, or partying with friends – he’s just looking for a place to sleep.

We need to do it all folks. We need to develop permanently affordable housing for local residents. We need to support more temporary shelters. We need a place for those sleeping in cars to park for the night. We need mental health services, addiction treatment, basic health and dental care. And our Housing agency needs more staff to help manage and make all this happen.

Don’t tell me we can’t. Don’t whine about how it’s the State or Federal government’s job, or the problem is too big, there’s not enough money, yada, yada, yada.

And please don’t be that ignorant fool at the table bragging about how he worked 3 jobs, how he sacrificed, how he never took handouts, and how he pulled himself up by the bootstraps. If you don’t believe we have a basic human duty to help those less fortunate, just shut the front door (STFD) and take the drivel to your beer buddies outside.

Eugene Tian, Chief Economist for the DBEDT, reported over 40 percent of homes sold on Kaua‘i are purchased by buyers from outside the state.

We have a severe shortage of affordable housing caused by off-island investors buying up the inventory. This is the problem. The solution is building more permanently affordable housing for local residents and taxing off-island investors to pay for it. Yes, other factors must also be addressed but the complete absence of affordable basic shelter is the fundamental problem.

The time for looking away is over. We need to own our responsibility – increase taxes on those who can afford it and don’t live here, then leverage those funds to support the shelters, build the homes, and provide the services.

Trust me. Those hotels will not pack up their bags and move because taxes are too high.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On the houseless – take the drivel to your beer buddies


    Let’s visit the unintended outcomes. If you tax the out of state people higher for buying here, how are our grown children that had to live away to afford housing going to be able to ever move home to their families? You cannot have two sets of rules. Taxing people to cross state lines? that is going to be hard to enforce.

    • garyhooser says:

      Thank you Layne for the comment. We have a property tax system based on “use” and the existing system already taxes people who live in their houses, or who rent their houses out at affordable rates – less than everyone else. A hotel pays a higher tax rate than a small store. If people don’t live in their houses full-time they pay a higher property tax than those people who do live in their houses. So those who want to move home to their families…will pay the lower tax rate. So yes…there can be two sets of rules or three or more. Agricultural land pays a lower rate than industrial land etc. etc. I understand you point but the system is set up to favor those who actually live in their houses or rent them out to local residents at affordable rates. Mahalo for the comment and conversation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s