Trouble in Paradise

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The New York Times is running a fantastic article today about homelessness in Hawaii. Rents there have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many working class Hawaiians with no other option than to set up camp along the state’s gorgeous coastlines (see Cory Lum’s amazing photo for the Times below). The problem is especially bad along the Waianae coast of Oahu, where the population is largely native Hawaiian.

 hawaii_tents.gif

Needless to say, Hawaii’s officials are displeased. Lester Chang, Waianae’s parks and recreation director, said “I think all communities have to deal with this situation, but Hawaii is unique because it’s an island. There’s no place to push them off to.”

To their credit, local and state officials are looking into substantive solutions to the problem. They face an uphill battle, since the state dissolved its housing department in the late 90s in the wake of a scandal. But it’s a bigger scandal to have such a lavish gift of nature converted into a dumping ground for island natives who have jobs and are able to pay reasonable rents, and still can’t find a place to live in their homeland.

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