Trouble in Paradise

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The New York Times is running a fantastic article today about homelessness in Hawaii. Rents there have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many working class Hawaiians with no other option than to set up camp along the state’s gorgeous coastlines (see Cory Lum’s amazing photo for the Times below). The problem is especially bad along the Waianae coast of Oahu, where the population is largely native Hawaiian.

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Needless to say, Hawaii’s officials are displeased. Lester Chang, Waianae’s parks and recreation director, said “I think all communities have to deal with this situation, but Hawaii is unique because it’s an island. There’s no place to push them off to.”

To their credit, local and state officials are looking into substantive solutions to the problem. They face an uphill battle, since the state dissolved its housing department in the late 90s in the wake of a scandal. But it’s a bigger scandal to have such a lavish gift of nature converted into a dumping ground for island natives who have jobs and are able to pay reasonable rents, and still can’t find a place to live in their homeland.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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