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Sunday, July 02, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, July 2, 2023

Sounds of Independence 
The lone bagpipe player fills the air as the parade rolled through Nāʻālehu honoring Independence Day on Saturday, July 1.
See photos below and more in Monday's Kaʻū News Briefs. The next parade is July 4 in Volcano. Photo by Lee McIntosh
The iconic eagle, symbol of U.S. Independence.
Photo by June Domondon

EVERYONE CAN WALK AND RIDE DOWN THE STREET AND EVEN JOIN A PARADE. THE PROBLEM IS HOUSING, the focus of a UHERO REPORT. University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization reported last week that "Residents of Hawai‘i face the highest housing costs in the nation. High housing costs lower the standard of living for residents and hinder the State’s ability to attract workers. Some households are forced to live in crowded conditions, some leave the state to find housing elsewhere, and some are forced to survive without housing at all."
    The report gives an example of Ocean View as a place where the people who already live there cannot afford to buy houses. While the median annual household income in Hawai'i County is $68,399, ranking lowest in the state, Ocean View’s median household income is $25,402, ranking last place among 63 communities analyzed across the state. The report notes that OV has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 15.9 percent. It also lists Discovery Harbour median income at $54,474.
    To inform discussions on the way forward for housing statewide, UHERO released the first edition of 
its annual Hawai'i Housing Factbook to provide detailed housing data for the state, counties, and the 63local zip codes. It shows that median housing costs are 2.7 times the national level. Over the past year, the median price of a single-family home sold in Hawai‘i was $852,000 and the median condo price was $600,000. The last 30 years have brought incredible growth in local housing prices. Median single-family home and condominium prices have more than tripled since the mid-90s, reports UHERO, noting that the pandemic had a special effect on the cost of housing: "Over thepandemic, with mortgage interest rates falling below 3% and households in need of more space, home prices soared. Before the pandemic, the median single-family home price in the state was $650,000. Between 2019 and 2022, prices rose by 35%, before leveling off in 2023. Median condo prices saw a 30% pandemic increase, jumping from $453,000 in 2019 to $587,000 in 2022, and have since risen further to $600,000. Mortgage interest rates rose sharply in 2022, and have remained near 7%. While high mortgage rates have dampened demand and reduced transaction activity, median prices have not fallen significantly."

The Kahuku Unit and Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park paraded together. Photo by June Domondon

Nāʻālehu Hongwanji carries the banner. Photo by June Domondon
Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary marches on. Photo by June Domondon
Kaʻū Baseball reaches all the Kaʻū communities.
Photo by June Domondon
Kaʻū Baseball trains keiki of all ages.  Photo by June Domondon 

    The report calls Hawai'i Island an outlier, in home prices. It notes that median single-family home prices on Maui and Honolulu have hovered near the $1 million mark for the past year. Prices on Kaua‘i are comparable, with a median price near $900,000. Contrastingly, the median single-family home in Hawai‘i County sells for $400,000. Median condominium prices in Hawai‘i County ($550,000) actually exceed that of single-family homes, reported UHERO.
    The data reported by UHERO for Hawai'i County having two of the three least expensive areas on the island. It stated that the median price at Discovery Harbour was $272,500 and Hawaiian Ocean View Estates was $307,500. Local realtors report recent sales and prices at Discovery Harbour much higher.
    Lance Owens, who is involved in real estate on this island weighed in with UHERO, writing that the medium home price for Hawai'i Island in its report is "off by a staggering 25%." He wrote that the Hawai'i Island median home price June 1 2022 to May 31 2023 was $498,576.92 with 2,133 sales."You would have to go back to the year 2019 to find a median price that low. When I look at YTD as of today the median price for the big island is $508,108.33 and an average YTD price of $849,375.53, but I know we are talking median." UHERO replied that its numbers are based on the home price recorded in deeds. That includes homes being sold to relatives, friends and business partners for deep discounts.
    UHERO also reports that "High condo prices indicate a lack of multifamily housing supply and an aging stock of single-family homes. At the zip code level, the differences are even more substantial. The North Shore of O‘ahu, as well as some neighborhoods on Kaua‘i rank among the most expensive areas. Kīlauea (zip code: 96754) on Kaua‘i had the highest median sales price over the past year, at $2.3 million, though only 16 properties transacted during that time. Contrastingly, the cheapest zip codes are all located in Hawai‘i County, where two zip codes have median sales prices under $300,000. The combination of high housing prices and high interest rates has drastically reduced housing affordability.
   "The surge in mortgage interest rates over the past year has radically decreased housing affordability for buyers. The share of local households who can afford the median priced home has fallen dramatically. In the below figures, we consider a mortgage to be “affordable” if no more than 30% of the household’s income is devoted to mortgage payments on a standard 30-year mortgage. In 2012, households needed to earn 120% of the state’s median income to afford the mortgage on the median priced single-family home. In 2022, home buyers needed to earn nearly 180% of the state’s median income (or $150,000 per year) to afford the median home. While condo prices are lower, affordability has also decreased with condo buyers now needing to earn $100,000, or 120% of Hawai‘i’s median income, to afford the median condo. The collapse in affordability of homeownership has been driven by the rise in interest rates over the past year. Even before the spike in rates, housing was unaffordable compared to most US markets." See the entire report at https://uhero.hawaii.edu/the-hawaii-housing-factbook/.

Kaʻū Multicultural Society leader Darlyne Vierra. Photo by Lee McIntosh

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The Filipino Chamber of Commerce hosts a statewide meeting on Zoom this Wednesday,
July 5 at 4 p.m. Follow HPBEC to get notified.

Kaʻū News Briefs, Saturday, July 1, 2023

The Color Guard for the Independence Day Parade in Nāʻālehu on Saturday, Makana Gravela and Dedrick Souza.
  Photo by Lee McIntosh

Lei for horse and pāpale for paniolo, a street-length gown to the road for Princess
 London Dacalio and Justin Amarillo, Jr., representing Ni'ihau with the color
white and adornment, the pūpū shell. Photo by Lee McIntosh
NĀ'ĀLEHU INDEPENDENCE DAY  PARADE DREW REVELERS on horseback, classic vehicles, floats and on foot this Saturday. It is the first parade of the season, the next in Volcano July 4.
      Mayor Mitch Roth walked with the carriers of the banner beneath the shade of tree lined streets of the village of Nāʻālehu. Also coming to Kaʻū was the Hawai'i County Band.
      Live music came from a lone bagpipe player, the county band and church singers. 
    The winning float was Thy Word Ministries, the Christian church that meets Sundays at the Buddhist Nāʻālehu Hongwanji.
Kaua'i color is purple, its plant the mokihana berry, presented by Richard
 and Tiana Souza. Photo by Lee McIntosh
    Pā'u riders with princesses and escorts represented the colors and flowers of each island, their horses bedecked with giant lei.
    There were more than 20 groups participating in the parade, from Hawaiian Civic Club of Kaʻū to Kaʻū Multicultural Society, Kahuku Unit of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Kaʻū Libraries and Nāʻālehu Assembly of God to Kaʻū Baseball and Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary School.
    Volunteer, County of Hawai'i and National Park fire departments joined the parade.
    Businesses on parade included Kaʻū Auto Repair and Ocean View Auto Parts,
    The non-profit 'O Kaʻū Kakou community organization and its President Wayne Kawachi put on the parade each year, followed by food, bingo and activities for children at Nāʻālehu Community Center and field. See more in Sunday's Kaʻū News Briefs.
Lana'i  color orange and its plant the Kaunaoa, presented by
Richard Souza III and Laina Souza. Photo by Lee McIntosh
O'ahu color is yellow, its flower ilima, presented by Mckella and Graydon Akana.
 Photo by Lee McIntosh

FLIGHT OPERATIONS FOR HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK are announced for July. On Tuesday, July 11 between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Hawai'i Volcanoes will send up a crew via helicopter for ungulate survey at Kahuku between 4,000-ft. and 6,000-ft. elevation.
    In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will conduct numerous helicopter flights in the park:
Maui color is pink, its flower Lokelani rose, presented by Lily Dacalio
 and Mauka Balucan. Photo by Lee McIntosh

.   Between July 14 and 31, near-daily flights are planned by USGS to deploy and retrieve temporary magnetotellurics instruments across the entire Kīlauea volcano, from sea level to 3,300-ft. elevation. The flights will occur within and outside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
    USGS HVO may conduct additional flight operations over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to assess volcanic activity and maintain instrumentation.
    The park sent out a statement saying it regrets any noise impact to residents and park visitors. Dates and times are subject to change based on aircraft availability and weather. The statement also says that management of the park requires the use of aircraft to monitor and research volcanic activity, conduct search-and-rescue missions and law enforcement operations, support management of natural and cultural resources, and to maintain backcountry facilities.

Moloka'i color is green, its flower from the kukui nut tree, presented by Jen Caruthers and Pua Calicdan.
Photo by June Domondon

Kaho'olawe color is gray, its plant Hinahina, presented by Lorilee Lorenzo and Ikaika Grace. Photo by Lee McIntosh
Hawai'i Island color is red the flower ohia lehua, presented by Nova Lorenzo and Frank Lorenzo, Jr. Photo by Lee McIntosh
Mayor Mitch Roth walks with the Nāʻālehu Independence Day Parade banner. Earlier this week, he urged local families to
 enroll their keiki in the free pre-kindergarten classes at Nāʻālehu
 Elementary. Photo by Lee McIntosh

NĀ'ĀLEHU ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WILL OFFER FREE PRE-KINDERGARTEN in the coming school year.  Sponsored by the state Executive Office on Early Learning, the program serves three and four-year old children who are in the two years prior to kindergarten entry.
    Children must be born on or between August 1, 2018 –July 31, 2020 and be three or four years old on or before July 31, 2023.
    Priority is provided for children whose situations include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
    Children who are eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and whose Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is determined as general education.
Children in foster care.
    Children who are experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.
    Children who are dual or multi-language learners.
    Children whose family’s income is no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
    Children who are experiencing at-risk situations which may impact their development and learning.
    Mayor Mitch Roth's office issued a statement in late June, urging families to sign up the keiki. "The County of Hawaiʻi is excited to announce the availability of free, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs through the State's Public Pre-kindergarten Program. Designed to provide valuable learning experiences, this program is open to all 3- and 4-year-old keiki on the island. With a commitment to inclusive education, the program accepts up to 20 keiki per classroom, including those with special needs.'
    The Mayor said, "We are thrilled that our keiki here on Hawaiʻi Island will be provided more options to access high-quality early education, setting them up for lifelong success. We understand the immense impact of early exposure to education on students' academic journey, which is why I urge all parents of young keiki to seriously consider applying for this invaluable free opportunity. By nurturing educated and culturally grounded keiki, we are building a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where our children can flourish and thrive, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come."
   There are currently 32 sites statewide that have been running for a few years, and as part of the Lieutenant Governor's Ready Keiki Plan, the EOEL is opening another 11 sites this August.
    Parents and families interested in enrolling their keiki can apply now. To learn more about the program and to submit an application, visit readykeiki.org.  To apply for the 2023-2024 school year, download an application packet at EOEL-Public-Pre-K-Program-Complete-Application-Packet-SY-23-24-2023-05-26.pdf or pick one up at Nāʻālehu Elementary.     
    The Executive Office on Early Learning  oversees the Public Pre-kindergarten Program and can be contacted at (808) 784-5350 or via email at eoel.info@eoel.hawaii.gov.