November 22, 2020
THE GARDEN ISLE - May you live in interesting times; well, maybe not this interesting
By Jim Edmonds, PAL Papers
That headline is an ancient Asian proverb. I have always thought that it was intriguing, and have used it often. But I’ll have to admit … These times are getting just a little bit toooo freaking interesting. I have been writing columns for The Garden Island newspaper since 1990. Nowadays, they get more and more challenging and concerning.
Again, if SOMEone, preferably the federal government, or at the least our beleaguered state government, doesn’t work a complete miracle …
we — as a nation, as a state, as an island — may find ourselves in deeper kim chee than we have ever known. In this column, and on our PAL (Permanently Affordable Living) Kaua‘i KKCR radio show, we always try to identify the tough issues and then do our best to offer solutions, or at least hope. But now?
Let’s set the stage: It is projected that up to 40% of our small businesses will be permanently lost. Many thousands of people have lost their jobs — perhaps permanently NO (more) help can be expected from the federal government (until maybe February?).
The state MUST spend all of the CARES Act money by Dec. 31. Many of the people who have received forbearance for their rent from their landlords did not understand that they will soon owe ALL of their back rent. (We’ve heard stories of those who owe up to $10,000) People received unemployment assistance but, for some, it just wasn’t enough. Those of us who are trying to help, go to on-line meetings — only to learn that, even though millions of dollars are being given out by the state to help tenants pay their rent, many of the landlords are refusing to receive the rent. Although it looks like there will be a vaccine, how long will it take to get to you and will you take it? There seems to be serious safety issues with our travel-protection protocols.
We are watching huge, dark clouds blow in off the ocean — a PERFECT STORM is gathering.
LANDLORDS: We know that some of you have not taken the assistance rent because:
1. You have a non-conforming (a polite word for “illegal”) rental unit, or
2. You haven’t been claiming the rental income on your taxes, or
3. You don’t believe in renting to tenants who have HUD or some assistance.
LISTEN UP LANDLORDS:
1. There are changes to the laws which may allow your non-conforming use to be permitted. Call the Planning and/or Housing Department for help.
2. You must make your own decision about what is right for you, but is it likely — during a statewide crisis — that anyone will come after you for back taxes?
3. Landlords who have accepted ANY tenant-based rental assistance are in GREAT SHAPE now. Much of their rental income is secured by the Hawai‘i Housing Authority! Maybe you’d like to have that insurance? Help yourself, help your tenant, and the county. We all help each other.
So, just what is going to happen? If you KNOW, please tell us all. Hopefully, Congress or this new administration will be able to figure out how to get us back on track. The last thing that I want to do is be a profit of doom, but you must prepare yourself for anything. I am so concerned about the eminent tsunami of evictions, foreclosures, hunger, fear and frustration. I speak hard, cold truth in the hope that you will prepare, steel yourself and your family, help those around you and reach out to your representatives at all levels of government and let them know that you know. And if something is not done, they (all of us) will face a future farrrr worse than their losing an election.
So, folks, it is crystal clear that, if something isn’t done, we will be in very-deep kim chee.
Meanwhile, what can you do? If you have any constructive suggestions, please email them to me or call into our radio show Monday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. and we will be more than happy to share them. We are very excited about this show because we will have Mel Rapozo and Charlie Iona, who are doing such great work on their live Facebook show. Maybe they can bring a little hope for the people of Kaua‘i.
There MAY be a vaccine for you, someday, but for now …
• Get the Covid TEST. It is currently FREE on Sundays. Ask your relatives and employees to get it.
• Wear a MASK. Like it or not! It will protect you, and — more importantly — it will protect OTHERS.
• SOCIAL DISTANCE — care for those around you. It’s called “aloha.”
• THANKSGIVING — keep the gathering small and be careful!
• Expect the unexpected — which is now the norm.
• Like you would for any storm or tsunami, start preparing for yourself and your family now.
• Analyze your financial future. Work together.
How long can you last? Tighten down. Don’t spend anything that you don’t need to spend.Is there anyone who can and will help? Do you have valuables you can sell? Any part of your home you can rent? If so, be fair to your tenants. We are all in this together.
• Stick together and help each other.
• Plant a garden. If you haven’t done it before, Google it. It’s really hard work and takes time.
• Contact us to install solar and lower your power bill.
• Don’t freak out — although, if you do, don’t get down on yourself. It is to be expected in these times.
• It’s OK to be concerned, but worry makes it harder to solve your issues. Hang in there.
• Stay healthy, meditate and take time for joy and entertainment.
• Stay involved … get to know your councilmembers and state representatives. Bend their ears!
• Think about how we can build a better future, and don’t be shy about telling everybody.
HANG IN THERE — TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT.
Jim Edmonds is president of PAL Kaua‘i, the nonprofit Permanently Affordable Living, and can be reached at Jim@PAL-Kauai.org.