Local Connection: Hawaii's High Cost of Living

Local Connection: High cost of living

By: Rick Blangiardi

If ever there was a statistic that highlights just how ridiculously expensive it is to live in Hawaii, look no further than a new report last week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The 2015 Housing Wage report measured the hourly wage that a household must earn working 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year to afford a two-bedroom rental without paying more than 30 percent of their income.

If you live in Alabama or Mississippi, you'll need about $13.67 an hour. For Arizona and Oregon, it's in the $16.60 range. And for the high cost of living states like California, New York and Washington, D.C, it's more than $25 an hour.

Then we get to Hawaii in another stratosphere. Residents here need $31.61 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, which, at fair market rent, will cost you $1,644 a month. That's about $66,000 a year, a staggering amount for a state where the minimum wage is $7.75 an hour, or $16,120 a year.

So doing the math, Hawaii has the largest gap in the country between what a renter needs to afford decent housing and what he or she earns.

Overall, Honolulu County is up there with the counties of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo.

Is it any wonder that young people or even families cannot afford to stay here in paradise? Is anyone taking affordable housing seriously? Is there a way to increase wages? I'd love to hear your solutions because what's happening now is not working.

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