How Paradise turned to Poverty

Aloha .... I think it that there should have a documentary on comparison between Zimbabwe and Hawaii. If anyone in the Bay Area interested to be cast in our film The Other Side of Paradise ....please join our The Other Side of Paradise Blog ....thanks... Farewell my beautiful Zimbabwe: how paradise turned to poverty Last year, Justine Shaw was forced to flee her beloved Zimbabwe. Like millions of others, she had suffered years of threats, poverty and intimidation at the hands of Robert Mugabe's men. Here, she recounts how paradise turned to poverty – and her fears for the elderly parents she left behind Food-aid program cuts costs, choicesWIC checks no good for bottled juices, 8-oz. shredded cheese packs Hawaii plan tackles public housing crisis 'Turnaround plan' in works critical as emergency concerns mount Please check also my new blog on House Fire in Paradise

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  • Hi Randy,

    I thought I'd direct you to my page to see my son's slam sort of has something to do with the issues...


  • There is a way, there is always a way. You must have an economy to support it. There are a variety of ideas or ways to do this and do we want it all or do we get it in increments? If you want it all it starts by county/state/federal giving back our assets. Too broad? Then it starts from your local community - other communities in the US are doing it to support their local communities. If we do things on a local level we have stability, you have stability you have people prospering. But this is actually not what your filmmaking is all about.

    Your filmmaking is about poverty and the homeless situation. Poverty in my opinion is a choice. Choice meaning on all different levels of raising a family. I was a caseworker for the state welfare department and took an early retirement in 2001. How we had seen the welfare rolls rise was due to how our local economy did in the markets. Layoffs affects the welfare rolls when unemployment benefits run out. The feds and state do not have statistic information on "after unemployment runs out, how are you able to track if a client is reemployed". There is a 5 year cap on welfare benefits for cash. No cap for foodstamps or medical. How the state gov't fuels our economy for jobs makes or breaks a family and their choice of how they want to live. Frugal or Fun? Many are in credit card debt. Many families don't drive vehicles that are economical vehicles (lots of trucks, SUV, etc) because they follow what drives the market in fads or who is driving what and what is "in". So it's a chioce.

    Others who live on the beach may just desire to not pay rent or own a home and want to "live off the land" - again a choice. Then there are some at the beach that can only survive this way so they make the best of it.

    You will need to do your research and homework on HOW you want to approach your filmmaking. We are NOT a 3rd world country and can not be compared to this.

    Being a sovereign nation vs a state government entity has in my opinion, nothing to do with poverty.
    Homelessness was unheard of when the chiefs of the past ruled. When the chiefs failed, the people failed - they had a unique system of how things were accomplished. So, in my opinion, the majority of the responsibility in "todays world" is that our state government is not taking care of its people. It has tried by creating OHA, but all it has done was pass this responsibility over and not do as much for the people to create a sustainability for hawaiians - OHA is an entity to kuleana for homes, new business ventures and educational scholarships for hawaiians. Alu Like Inc. was formed under federal monies and outside agency monies, including OHA to help native hawaiians as well as native americans have on the job training or summer youth work and educational awards.

    There are ways to help homelessness and it is up to those whom are homeless who want the help to get them off the beach - but if they want this lifestyle in the name of sovereignty, then it is their choice.

    In my opinion, there are more funding out there for native hawaiian children but it takes work and alot of palapala to get it. Less funding out there for adults - on the job training is a minimum unless employers are out there hiring a native hawaiian under the assistance of Alu Like, Inc.

    The other problem we have in cost of living is electricity - we have poor systems with more brown outs, power surges and spikes. There is only 1 power company in Hawaii with no competition to bring the rates down. Native Hawaiians can create their own co-op for water and power there are funds out there for this. We create competition the rates will go down for everyone. For in some homes, electricity and water bills equate to what rent is. Combine them together and you can't have a telephone line with gas prices being the way it is.

    Tourism as a key focus to money making for the state is not going to last and will not sustain our economy. Airlines and hotel industries with layoffs has proven this. Agriculture is minimal but needed. With many moving to Hawaii from other states or countries, we keep hosting breed of invading species on our plants and wildlife how can agriculture survive?

    These are just some basic areas of how a family make take a downturn into low income or into poverty - it's up to the family to make a better choice, it's up to state government to provide the right choice to support this.

    Our household has to pay state income taxes each year; we don't pay federal income taxes we just receive if eligible tax breaks if needed. All families in Hawaii can change this as well and have more money in their pocket. How? Easy...change your exemptions. An exemption is a credit by definition. You take credits like: head of household, children, childcare, additional children, mortgage interest, etc etc etc. When you claim exemptions you claim credit - it has nothing to do with a body and a SSN for each individual. So, if a family of 2 adults and 3 children are filing taxes each year why are they claiming only 5 for state and 5 for federal on their payroll checks? Think about it....I have 6 in my household. I have my husband claim 15 on federal and 13 on state exemptions on payroll if his income increases with raises I make adjustments - but we never pay federal income taxes and with any other tax credits we can get we use it to pay under $200 in state income tax. It's all how you run your household and understand how the rich get richer and the poor stay poorer - it's a choice. You have to educate yourself to know how to make things work for you and your family and still have investments for the future. Everyone should be putting money away for emergencies and other funding, etc and remember to give to charity.

    Everyone could be homeless one day, its all a matter of how you want to keep afloat or whether you want to give up. There is nothing wrong with being homeless for a while, get back on your feet after.
    Look for resources and pass the resource information to the next person to benefit them. And if you grow your own food and have a business from your crafts or talents ....more power to you.

    Also, being on foodstamps assistance doesn't mean you are poor. It is a supplement for the household as it was created by the US governement. Everyone can get healhcare through medquest which is a state public welfare benefit. There are many different programs under medquest even for those who are self employed, and moderate income levels - it isn't for the poor as one thinks. I think it's the paperwork, the interview and the upkeep of a case being open that a family has a hard time to maintain whether its through fear or neglect.

    So, again you should do your homework and find the exact approach to what you truly want to say, relfect and be pono with what you are portraying.
    • Hi Stephanie,

      I disagree with some of what you said because I have worked my husband has worked and very hard I might add to contribute to our household yet, we are still one step from homelessness and it is very much "not" our choice. It is the political system. The dictatorship of a president and a ill willed Governor who doesn't care about the poor people (but only cares about herself) and I might add, even though I am moneyless, I am not poor. I don't qualify for medquest because I own a house and a piece of property, so the state wants me to get rid of one of the properties in order to qualify and have less then 600.00 in how are we suppose to get ahead? So I have two SUV's in my yard, not by choice but because I could afford them and they are old but I bought them and had no choice that I would ever not be able to use them because I can't afford it.

      Personally, I don't think it is "the choice" of all homeless people to become that way, I don't know who can afford 1400. rent for a family but I sure can't. So yah, the beach might look good after I lose the house if my husband doesn't go back to work. Yah, he could go work at McDonalds and make a measly $7.00 an hour but after paying 20 bucks a day to go to and from work... it is not worth it. All the locals are no longer being hired by the farmers to pick coffee or work the farms cause the filipinos, mexican and marshallese took over all the jobs and farm houses so the locals are forced to move farther like to Ocean View and now with the gas prices we all can't afford to go to work. With a minimum wage of $6.00 an hour or whatever it is, it doesn't even close to cut it. So we cannot afford to go anywhere. I have two properties one which was in the family and when I was working a could afford to buy it through easy payments to my mom and thank god, I paid it off so I'm right now stuck do I move my family to land and let my house go to the bank and rough it? hmmm...that is not my choice but I have to if I will. but the state looks at me as I can sell the property (which I bought for my kids cause I didn't have anything when I started and I don't want them to start with nothing ) and get their quest medical or I can get a 7.00 an hour job and still not have enough money to pay my mortgage...that is not a choice I would make either...

      I don't blame the people who live on the beaches...I think it is in large, the political, economical situation in Hawai`i. I really don't think anyone wants to be homeless by choice. and when I look at all the homeless getting kicked off the beaches with no or only temporary solutions in front of them, I worry about it cause they didn't offer a permanent solution. All the while, DHHL, Bishop Estate, and all the big land owners sit back and do "nothing" to help their own people. DHHL has 1400. mortgages for their house. My mother the only one who qualifies for that land, doesn't have an income and can't get the financing and if she did, we wouldn't be able to get it passed down so what the hell is DHHL and Bishop Estate doing to better their people all the people? Not one dam thing. Also, recently I got a letter from my friend stating that DHHL was purchasing a painting to hang in their office from a haole for $70,000 or some ridiculous amount and all I could think of was "wow they could get two homeless families off of the beach for that much through the self help program" that is so screwed up...and I'm getting so irritated now...sorry for the long post but this is reality for me. I don't see the leading entities helping us workers who have worked all our lives to buy a property which we still can't afford. People I will tell you now, if I am ever homeless in the future, it will "not" be by choice. by the way....60 families in Ocean view got turned away for food bank food cause the food bank ran out.. yet we have farms with avocados dropping on the ground. I would like to see a program to teach these people how to grow their own food. but well, if the don't have land, how could they do that? Food bank food is too easy for the people they need to get back to the `aina and grow whatever they can. IF they grow their own food, they no longer have to go to the store for veggies, their food that they feed their families will be full of nutrition because it would be fresh from the garden and have "no shelf life". Yes, we have solutions but how do we implement them when 60 families got turned away? I think that puts us in a critical state already. I have no solutions but we should have been growing as much of our own food that we could from the get go. k, I'm very frustrated now..:) but still smiling...
      • Momi, get a new appraisal on your property you do not live on - ask them to give you a low appraisal for agricultural and not residential to be under the $600 asset limit then reapply for medquest. I have helped clients who rent/have mortgaget and have HOVE properties to get a new appraisal and talk story with the appraiser, make friends and get a low value to qualify for benefits you need. I'm not like most welfare workers, I really helped all of my clients, educated them and spent time with them - to help them get back on track. I am sorry the caseworker on your case did not tell you of your option to get another appraisal on the worth of the property to try and qualify again for medical benefits
        • It is not even close to an option for us to rent our house out...we have been growing food and medicine plants in our yard. Our neighbors who are letting their house go to the bank have had renters who can't pay them and they moved closer to town and still can't pay their mortgage..If that is the case "why own our own house". It is very much not a choice. The houses closer to town are much more then we can afford and why would we want to pay someone elses mortgage which is more then ours...hmm...I don't see that as a solution..God forbid anyone doesn't rent to drug dealers who meth lab makers cause your land then becomes a toxic waste dump. That is an unrealistic scenario for one is renting because no one can afford it...Rather then let someone live in my house and have to move all my belongings just to hope they can pay me rent in this day and age is unrealistic.

          I believe my land in Puna is agricultural and we have been planting food and medicine there too but I don't think they are going to appraise my three acres in Puna at $600. Although, that is what my mom paid for it ions ago... Now the land prices are at 30-40 k I don't even have the money for gas to meet with the appraisers...cause I have a choice of buying food or gas...hmm...I'd rather see my kids eating and since I don't qualify for any assistance I'm stuck...Thanks for the solutions but that is unrealistic for yes, I'm happy where I am but I do not feel it is "anyone's" choice to become homeless. If I rent, I have to live by others rules, possibly have a neighbor who can hear the family sneaze etc...That it no my goal in life...I have worked this land for 15 years and I am not going to just leave it and rent it out and "HOPE" they can pay me for the still not my choice to become homeless. Our food stock for storms, emergencies..etc...has been depleted and I have lots of camping stuff but I don't choose to live on the beach and although, I love the beach, it is not the place for a family to live 24/7.This is why I never judge homeless people and I never blame them for the scenario they are in. However, I would like to see some actual help for them and not in a temporary transitional home...what pride will that give them? HOw many millions did they spend on that housing that could have gone to really help people get on their feet with no limitations on amount of time they can be there...Like I said, DHHL, Bishop Estate, forget OHA they do nothing for us except try to finagle the selling and misuse of ceded lands. I think it is a bunch of crap.

          Alot of my friends have houses that they rented out and moved in with family and their renters couldn't pay them and moved out...I don't have this option cause they are still struggling.
          • Your story is likened to many who have tried and exhausted all possibilities. Time is either on your side or not. I will pray for you and have my church pray for you and your family as well. I give my aloha this way to you my sister Momi. Please send me your mailing address by e-mail and I will send you some things to alleviate the stress - one you will enjoy is my ono kine music songs...SMILE. ((((Hugs)))) Be sure to apply for WIC for baby and if you need transportation for medical appointments contact Hui Malama Ola Na 'Oiwi in your district - they help with transportation to ease the cost of getting to a medical appointment. Your little one should qualify for medical under the MOMI plan it may have changed to another type of plan which was based on the MOMI ironic huh a "Momi" plan where there is unlimited asset. When you apply for medquest apply for only the baby and you or baby only - see what can work for you and ask the caseworker that you need medical at least for baby - maybe you already have this plan if you don't reapply. Baby's appointment travel can be handled through his medquest, there is a special form that doctor's use called a Form 201 to request paitents on medquest to receive taxi service for medical appointments. These forms are also utilized for travel service for airlines and ground transportation for services off island. or Hui Malama Ola Na 'Oiwi is another travel service for doctor's appointments. Tell them your vechiles are not able to transport your child as under repairs or not in operation at this time - not in operation in your mind due to cost of gas is also a reason; they don't need all the details of why Hope this helps. I want to come and visit you in the next 4-6 weeks, it will be a long travel but I want to do this for you sister Momi for it's been a while we had lunch together. I just got out of the hospital from removal of a benign tumor yesterday and that's why the long wait. I've discussed this with my husband and he will be home for the kids while I trek down to your end of the island for a visit. I'll leave early in the morning to get down to your side of the island. (I manifested the tumor in protection of my family - I've already seen healers for this and will follow up with another treatment I am doing well in pain, just need to have my healing for my body - it is nice to have healers in this day and age most are passed away). Can 't wait to see you and give you a real hug. You are a true warrior in all that you do and say for yourself and for koko.
            • Hi Stephanie,

              Mahalo!! I do feel blessed with what I have and I do have alot...this is why I would never work my land only to eventually move out and someone else enjoy it. Yes, I'm wiping back tears...but it is all good. We are surviving and you are welcome at my house "anytime". I also have something to help you with your surgery...Yes, I am going to have to apply for quest for the baby and Hoku...I my husband and I don't qualify...I also believe that a tumor can be I would like to know if you can drive out yourself so you can get a lomi and we can wala`au...Just so you can have some "Stephanie" time...also wow I didn't have any idea they called something the MOMI plan...I thought you were making me the poster child for! :) Ok, it is all good. and all of this information is valuable mahalo sis....
              • Yes, the MOMI plan existed as a start for families who needed medical for a pregnant mom who would normally not qualify any other way with or without family or with or without income to qualify. It was a pilot program in the late 80's and they may now call it something else but its a based program that you can have unlimited amount of assets; counts only a portion of the monies from the household. After the birth the child can still qualify alone with unlimited assets up to a certain age criteria. I'm not able to drive immediately as prior to the removal I could not drive long distances; located on the right side to the back of my chest walls on the ribs - sitting is uncomfortable. So in 4 to 6 weeks we will see each other I will e-mail you to get directions to see you and be in honor of your company with baby....MOMI is an acroynom for Mother on maternal/infant program - something like this but yah it exists...SMILE. I believe we are discussing this now to not only help you but others on Maoliworld who may not be familiar with these programs. I'm here to provide information best I can for families - what I have done, I know and will be doing, and continue to do for koko and others.
      • Momi you are land rich and what a blessing to have 2 pieces of property - but in hawaii it is costly. With your property you can rent it out if you have to in order to save it. You don't have to give it to the bank. Lots of my friends are doing this or have done this. Rent and keep it or rent and close at a higher market rate then take the money and rebuilt on the property you have or buy another house closer to work and home and cheap - many ways to do this which all take some kind of discomfort or sacrifice - a choice.

        INS is deporting illegal aliens, the ones who are legally here with work visas are yes taking over because they will take less wages than our locals and they don't ask for raises. The differene in their survival is that they live in crammed quarters; 4-10 large families in a 3-4 bedroom houses for them to save for vehicles and to one day own a home for themselves - this is their culture and values. I don't know of may hawaiians who choose this kind of lifestyle like this for years on end living like sardines. The goal for them living like this is to get a head and have things not just a way of like.

        Since the 'Iolani Palace incident, INS and Homeland security will get involved with more sweeps for illegal aliens. It is closed indefinitely on the state level but on the federal level (HUSH HUSH) they will be looking at things and people closely My other neighbor next door who is married to my cousin's daughter is an illegal tongan and he needs to be under the radar or he will be deported - married or not, if the papers are not in order they get deported. Oahu already deported 54 illegal aliens, big island has recently (starting this past spring) have a GREAT influx of latino people; whether legal or illegal that is what has to be proven. The cards may look legal, but when you trace it through a toll free number with a state agency who is allowed access into the system it will tell you yay or nay - I used to do this as a state worker in my job - I did my job thoroughly; I bet the workers today are overworked and not checking the system like they should to weed out illegal aliens through their own door.

        State Government and County Agencies need to step up and have more interface networks with INS to weed out illegal aliens - but the system is costly; sending information by mail can take months; by electronically it earmarks a case ASAP.
        Small cost to government to keep locals working - but most locals will not work for peanuts liken to filipinos, latinos and some tongans, marshallese, etc. Remember, they will work for almost nothing but we as locals place worth on ourselves to not work for less than $10.00 p/hr. They can liveon less than $10 p/hr because of their sardine living. All this also a choice for them.

        Any mismanagement of government funds should be reported. There is actually a phone number to call for this and you can remain anonymous. It's a whistle blower type of call - have your friend or yourself exercise your right and report government waste.

        Everyone and every family needs to be self-sufficient. Even I can be homeless but you know what? I am prepared for homelessness because it's my disaster plan for earthquate or huriicane. I have everything you need to run a home for 6 in preparation including food. I am working on another footlocker of more food to last 1 month instead of 2 1/2 weeks. You name it I have it, tents, folding furniture, showerstall, air mattresses, electronics for entertainment or emergency, coolers, clothing, linen and towels, kitchen stuff, camping stove, propane, etc etc etc.

        Everyone has a choice and everyone has a way and a vision to come to a choice and live with a choice.

        I know by living here in Hawaii it is wasting my money away. I plan to make a move to Tennessee where my husband has property. For now we are settling in the older kids into college - next year its the next one and then we will probably make the move for Tennessee unless we see the economy get better. I don't feel it will.

        In any event, we all have our stories and it is sad what has happened to Hawaii but it is inevitable - it will only get worse and what we can do for now is prepare for the worse. Start stocking up on food for your family and the essentials of rice and toilet paper, etc. Do this for your family as a project and you will feel much better about being self-sufficient. There is much talk about layoffs in the habors division and that is the division where we receive imported goods. The strike in the 70's affected us in rice and toilet paper - I remember that so please be prepared for your family in all areas to make transitions of change a smooth one with no stress on the family.
      • If we had the "fair market value" revenues from our ceded lands and all the businesses on it, we would be able to run our own country, and house our own people etc...but that is not the case... but I am very much not one who wants to be homeless by choice at all...Even if I changed my life, I would still not be able to afford to live here. I believe since the economy is so bad (yes, thanks to Bush and Lingle), there will be more of a homeless problem and it will not be by choice at all.
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