Movin' On Up
March 23, 2007 4:12 PM   Subscribe

One man's pocket change is another man's $3 million dollar home. Today, 3 previously homeless families were handed the keys to homes located on one of Hawai'i's priciest streets: Kahala Avenue. Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto has so far chosen 4 native Hawaiian families to live rent free for up to 10 years, making good on a promise made back in November 2006. Obviously, Kawamoto's motives are suspect, as his record as a landlord has been rather tainted. And his approach to alleviating 4 family's homeless situation doesn't solve any systemic problems or go very far in providing long term solutions to homelessness. But for now, it's a feel-good story, and the start of an interesting sociological experiment...
posted by krippledkonscious (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The Zillow link is a little flaky, and shows the very end of Kahala Ave. Follow the street south and west to marvel at the plethora of homes with 7-8(!) digit price tags.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:20 PM on March 23, 2007


But for now, it's a feel-good story

Sorry to piss on the bonfire here, but it's not much more than a feel-good story.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:23 PM on March 23, 2007


Sorry to piss on the bonfire here, but it's not much more than a feel-good story.

i don't get what any part of that sentence means.

I think its awesome that things like this happen in the world. It might not solve every problem everywhere overnight, but it's really cool.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


As someone who has worked extensively with the homeless this makes me so angry I cannot even think clearly.

Does this come with supportive services to help them with the economic, social, mental and/or substance abuse problems that caused them to be homeless to begin with? Does it funded or assist existing shelters and agencies?
Is he going to help them find a employment? Get job training?

Congrats to the four families that won the lottery today, but I guess investing in low-income housing or creating a foundation that grants Section 8 type housing vouchers just isn't enough of a thrill. Whether this a "fuck you" to his critics or a self-congratulatory act of noblesse oblige it fails to address any significant issues around housing and homelessness.

This is an act of eccentricity absent of any sense of justice or social responsibility not charity.
posted by MasonDixon at 4:37 PM on March 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


Or if Zillow is being flakey, check out a few multi-million-dollar Kahala Ave. homes here.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 4:46 PM on March 23, 2007


there goes the neighborhood.
posted by pruner at 4:51 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does this come with supportive services to help them with the economic, social, mental and/or substance abuse problems that caused them to be homeless to begin with? Does it funded or assist existing shelters and agencies?
Is he going to help them find a employment? Get job training?


No. He didn't do any of that. He also did more than what 5 billion odd people on earth did for the homeless on that day, which is absolutely nothing.

This is an act of eccentricity
Agreed. I still think it's really really cool. If this is wrong to do while people are hungry/homeless/[insert your pet cause here], then all art should be banned, along with all other human endeavors besides approved works of charity.

I of course want social justice, but not at the price of living in world so monotone and joyless that things like this are forbidden.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:54 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you ever seen a homeless person get housing there's nothing "joyless or monotone" about it --even when it's not a mansion.

Many things contribute to quality of life including art, but funders and creators of art are usually not making charitable pretensions.

There's a whole lot of color-filled joy that he could have provided, but why do something as mundane as create low-income housing when you can make sweeping gestures of grandiosity?
posted by MasonDixon at 5:07 PM on March 23, 2007


there goes the neighborhood.

He's trying to drive down property value so he can buy more real estate?
posted by IronLizard at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2007


The fine print says they must buy house numbers from Amazon.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:18 PM on March 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


If everyone who could help, helped everyone who needed help, that would be a systematic solution to the problems in this world that need to be addressed.

Good for Kawamoto.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:53 PM on March 23, 2007


The fine print says they must buy house numbers from Amazon.

Ironically, buying house numbers from Amazon is a cause of homelessness.
posted by pruner at 6:05 PM on March 23, 2007


If you ever seen a homeless person get housing there's nothing "joyless or monotone" about it --even when it's not a mansion.

My SO works at our local Housing Authority, and I've had the pleasure of witnessing plenty of instances where the formerly homeless are introduced to their new digs, so I can say with real experience behind it that "Yes, Virginia, sometimes it is pretty joyless." Particularly when the housing they're getting is shitty public housing and they already think the world owes them a living.

Mind you, not all cases are like this. I just wanted to clarify (and contradict) the absoluteness of the original statement.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:15 PM on March 23, 2007


My SO works at our local Housing Authority, and I've had the pleasure of witnessing plenty of instances where the formerly homeless are introduced to their new digs, so I can say with real experience behind it that "Yes, Virginia, sometimes it is pretty joyless."

True enough. Housing Authorities are certainly a mixed bag and not every one who needs housing is a saint. My main objection was to the vaunting of this act of "charity" like it was making a significant contribution to helping the homeless.
posted by MasonDixon at 6:37 PM on March 23, 2007


MasonDixon, I get where you're coming from, and I applaud the work you do, seriously.

And I agree the word "charity" might be misplaced here. But did Mr. Kawamoto ever use it, or was it just the media? It's hard to know his motivations without talking to him, but I read it more as a political statement:

native hawaiians had their land stolen from them, and now they tend to be on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. This gesture was an attempt to call attention to that fact and right that wrong, if only symbolically.

Or to put it another way:

every time I visit my mom I see all these brochures about animal rights in China. And I always think, "gee mom, what about taking care of human rights in China first??"

But I bite my tongue, because the bottom line is, that's the cause that spoke to her. It's her money, and rather than horde it or spend it on herself, she chose to do something selfless with it. Even if the merits of the cause are debatable to me, I can't just write off the effort.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2007


$$$$$$$$$$$ is the new porn. Again.
posted by Dizzy at 7:07 PM on March 23, 2007


The articles I've been reading about this is that he is known for evicting large amounts of tenants, quickly, just to be able to sell property at the price that he wants.

It's also been mentioned that he's trying to drive down property prices in those neighborhoods so that he can buy property cheaply (that's his business, after all, buying property cheaply and then selling it at a large profit).

I had hoped when I first saw this that it would be a feel-good story, but the more I looked into it, it just seemed like a press release.

These folks don't have to pay rent, but they have to pay for the utilities. If they cannot afford rent somewhere, how are they going to pay for electricity and water and whatever else in a mansion? I know I probably couldn't afford it.
posted by ugf at 8:32 PM on March 23, 2007


"I think its awesome that things like this happen in the world. It might not solve every problem everywhere overnight, but it's really cool."

I couldn't disagree more.

It did nothing but make some rich bastard appear to have a sense of compassion.

If he honestly cared about helping people, any people including the homeless, he would have put that $9 million to better use.
posted by rougy at 8:37 PM on March 23, 2007


I didn't click the links... did Ty Pennington get to build a special hula room add-on for the families or anything?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:50 PM on March 23, 2007


It did nothing but make some rich bastard appear to have a sense of compassion.

It did nothing for the familes??
posted by smackfu at 10:00 PM on March 23, 2007


Does this come with supportive services to help them with the economic, social, mental and/or substance abuse problems that caused them to be homeless to begin with?

Homeless doesnt always mean drunk hobo panhandler crazy person. According to the article the homes were given to families with children and at least one working adult. A lot of "normal" working class American families are one missed paycheck away from not having a place to live. Anyone who's ever spent a few weeks on a friend or relatives couch while they saved up for first, last and a deposit has been homeless.

I miss the days when we used the appropriate terms to classify the less fortunate. There's a big difference between Hoboes, Winos, Drifters,panhandlers,vagrants, and plain old run of the mill Bums.

Whatever happened to "just going through a rough patch?"
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:52 AM on March 24, 2007


As a Hawaii resident, I can say that there are plenty of people skeptical of Kawamoto's grand gesture, considering how he's conducted business in the past. Nonetheless, seeing the profiles of the families on the evening news, and their earnest attempts to do well by and with their new neighbors, tugs at the heart strings.

Homelessness is a huge problem here, and if you think it's all losers and addicts, you're wrong. The cost of living and price of housing is such that a married couple can work two full time jobs and two part time jobs and still barely make ends meet. Some bad timing and they're commuting to the office every day from the beach.
posted by pzarquon at 12:44 PM on March 24, 2007


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