Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Funding for kupuna housing: Good goal, but is it realistic?

Shortage of affordable housing hurts those with limited income
Emma Caires
Seven unhoused members set up camp with their three dogs in Thomas Square on a Saturday afternoon on Jan. 20.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a measure that could keep kupuna in homes and off the streets.

Senate Bill 2244 aims to expand the state rent supplement program for seniors who are homeless, or face the risk of becoming homeless.

Aside from the cost of managing age-related health issues, high housing prices make rent a more difficult task for those in retirement.

Hawai’i’s current rent supplement program helps eligible families “pay part of their monthly rent,” but some lawmakers, including Representative Troy N. Hashimoto, believe the amount is not enough.

“The high cost of living in the state, fixed income and complex health needs of older adults, rapidly rising rents, and declining availability of affordable housing make rental assistance for older adults a necessity,” Hashimoto wrote in a 2023 committee report.

Kāne‘ohe resident Jenny Beltran says her grandmother was unable to pay rent for her house in 2022, so she had to move in with Beltran for the foreseeable future.

“I think this bill goes beyond just the kupuna – it impacts everyone in their lives as well,” Beltran said. “Getting this increased funding would go a long way in making them more comfortable and it erases that worry of being homeless.”

Taylor Tameta, a longtime volunteer at the Institute for Human Services on O’ahu, says she supports what this bill stands for, but is concerned about whether or not it is truly feasible and practical.

“I think it’s a great plan that needs to be implemented to see any real change in the housing crisis here, especially for our kupuna,” Tameta said. “But the question is, ‘Where is the money coming from?’ and ‘Will our locals see this money or will it somehow be put back into gentrification?’”

In the 2023 report, Hashimoto wrote the increased rent supplement is “part of the overall solution needed to address housing and homeless related issues in Hawaii.”

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About the Contributor
Emma Caires
Emma Caires, Contributor
Aloha! My name is Emma Caires, and I am a third-year journalism major at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. I thoroughly enjoy expanding my range in journalism by reporting on a variety of events regarding our campus and students, but my favorite area, as of right now, is feature writing, specifically human-interest stories. I’m looking forward to further immersing myself in campus life and knowledge through this program.

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