If you’re like me, a millennial born and raised in Maui, chances are you’ve done your fair share of goodbye. It’s a fact of life here that groups of friends barely last – one friend goes to school, job opportunities attract a few, and another buys a house on the mainland for a fraction. of Maui’s median price (which, by the way, was $ 790,000 for a single person). family homes last month)… and before you know it, this group of friends is just a group chat. It is a reality that I lived and which is confirmed in a recent report by Pacific Resource Partnership, a consortium representing the construction union Hawaii Regional Carpenters Council.
The report, entitled “Hawaii Perspectives: Understanding the Mindset of Hawaii Residents”Is based on data collected by the national firm ALG Research, who surveyed 942 registered voters across the state.
He found that 45 percent of Hawaii residents have, or have a household member who has seriously considered leaving. Hawaii. For young adults aged 18 to 34, this ratio is higher, at 66%. Similarly, 51% of university graduates plan to bid on the Aloha State a hui hou.
The top three reasons for displacement are not surprising to anyone familiar with the struggle: the high cost of living, job opportunities elsewhere, and expensive housing.
But the “brain drain”, the loss of talented young people due to emigration, is only one depressing implication of the report. Survey respondents also shared a grim vision for the future.
More residents believed that the standard of living of children growing up in Hawai’i would worsen than those who thought it would improve. Optimism for their own financial future has also waned, as the number of people who said they were “a little better” than a year ago fell from 42 percent in 2015 to 25 percent in 2019. Over the same period, the percentage of people who said they were doing “about the same thing” more than doubled.
47 percent of “long-time residents” said they thought Hawaii was “seriously on the wrong track,” following the 39 percent who thought the state was heading in the right direction. Some of the top issues that respondents say are getting worse include homelessness (79 percent said it’s getting worse) and the availability of affordable housing (71 percent).
71% said the high cost of living in Hawaii is what worries them the most about residing here, while there is a strong sense that the burden is not evenly distributed: 67% believe that economic inequality between rich and poor is growing.
It turns out that the survey responses reflect reality quite accurately. United States Census Population estimates show that since 2016, Hawai’i has experienced an annual population decline, losing a net of 3,710 residents between July 2017 and July 2018.
And like MauiTime Reported last December, U.S. Census data also shows that the median income of the highest-paid census tract in Maui has increased while the median income of the lowest-paid sectors has declined – in other words, the wealthy have fallen. get richer while the poor get poorer.
All of this points to a paradise in which locals find it increasingly difficult to survive and call each other home. And, while the status quo may work for the privileged few, it seems public perception has caught up with the challenges locals face. For some, the solution means leaving friends, family and home – and ultimately more loss for the people they leave behind. For others, it means a sacrifice, like having two jobs.
Our mayor and many council members campaigned on an affordable housing platform and supporting a Maui where residents can thrive. With the number of development projects advancing across the county, all of this raises important questions: Are these projects really for the people who inhabit this beautiful ‘aina? Are all parties invited to the table and represented in the planning? And are we doing our best to ensure that the benefits created by these projects are accessible to everyone?
Image courtesy of Flickr / steve_p2008