Economic Justice in Honolulu
By Nhat Nguyen
This may be your perception of Hawaii, a place that is void of stress and worries. Yet, the residents who live there face a different reality. A reality that is more or less a result of the tourism that Honolulu experiences. Like a double edge sword, tourism brings wealth and prosperity to some and hardships to others. While the average tourist has an abundance of hotels and resorts to choose from, some locals are faced with the problem of homelessness. While tourist may read the local newspaper while they’re on vacation, these are the headlines they most likely miss.
(These headlines are from respected news outlets like NYTimes, The Guardian, and CBS News)
When doing my research for this project, I found it extremely puzzling that landowners were still constructing hotels when locals could barely find a place to live. While both apartment complexes and hotels can generate revenue, don’t the landowners have a moral responsibility to help house the locals? Don’t we, as fellow citizens also have a moral responsibility to find hotels and landlords that don’t provide housing opportunities and boycott those places during our vacations? The construction of luxe hotels and resorts blatantly ignores the needs of those in the lower and middle-income bracket.
Hotels, however, aren’t the party most guilty of the lack of housing. The lack of rental units for locals can be attributed to the rise of Airbnb. To a homeowner, renting through Airbnb is more lucrative and less risky. To them, it’s a win-win. When comparing a map of short-term rentals and long-term rentals, it’s evident how homeowners favor Airbnb tenants to long-term tenants.
While it might be hard to get legislature to help ease the problem, tourist can help alleviate the issue by not renting through Airbnb and similar company. If homeowners realized that there is no longer a market for short-term rentals, they’ll be forced to rent out to the residents of Honolulu. We, as tourist, need to be aware if our short-term residency in any area causes harm to the locals.