Yurts- The Solution To Affordable Hawaiian Land
It is no secret that the cost of land and homes in the Hawaiian Islands is a serious contributor to the vast amount of social issues related to record levels of homelessness and careless disposal of waste within the string of islands.
Homelessness can be attributed to multiple factors, however one of the top reasons an individual becomes homeless is due to lack of affordable housing. Of course, “affordable” is a vague term, and varies according to individual and region. In many areas of Hawai’i, the cost for a one or two bedroom apartment does not drop below $800, usually excluding utilities. It is safe to say that the average cost of living in the Hawai’an Islands is an unrealistic figure for many individuals, especially low-income families such as single mothers. Although there are programs in Hawai’i for low income families, the lack of readily available affordable apartments and homes is a huge obstacle for individuals struggling financially.
According to the Maui Rental Housing Study Act in 2014, the demand for housing has dramatically increased over time during a simultaneous jump in residential sales, both of which have caused the definition of affordable housing on the Hawai’ian Islands to increase dramatically. However, the same study also states that the amount of building permits for next year’s residential construction are very minimal, foreshadowing no progress in the county towards more affordable housing options for the residents.
Much of the housing issues can be attributed to the “Morganistic” qualities of the booming tourism industry. Tourism and hospitality on the islands is a billion dollar industry, and as such has increased the demand for entry level hospitality positions across all the Hawai’ian Islands. This poses a problem for local residents, because a large amount of low income jobs eventually begin to endorse low income residents. This, coupled with the increased cost of land due to the booming tourist industry, begins to create unimaginably high rent prices.
This serious economical issue has caused a state-wide homeless epidemic. This unfortunate reality has rapidly spread throughout the Hawai’ian islands, making Hawai’i the state with the highest number of homeless residents. According to the State of Homelessness in America report from 2014, the estimated number of unsheltered people in the Hawai’ian islands last year was roughly 7,000.
How Yurts Can Help
The historical background of yurts declares a structure capable of solving extreme social problems. The yurt is an ideal structure for the Hawai’ian ‘aina because of it’s resilience against extreme sunlight, economical perks, and open design that promotes energy efficient air flow.
The entire composition of a yurt is built around the concept of economic efficiency and promoting a sustainable lifestyle. The yurt offers just that with the ability to evenly distribute light, airflow, and heat for cooler months. The simplistic structure of the yurt is easy to set up, and can be erected in a matter of hours. Because the structure is made of minimal materials, yurts usually cost under 20K for the structure, electrical, and plumbing- a much more affordable alternative than the average cost of a home in Hawai’i.
Although commonly geared towards residential use, yurts have the potential to be the pioneers of an economic and environmentally responsible commercial building industry. Compared to traditional hotels, restaurants, and home stays, yurts have a phenomenal advantage on the traditional western square structure. Yurts are much more economical to produce than standard commercial buildings because they require less raw materials, man power, and assembly room to build. Less up front costs for tourist-based businesses means less overhead before making a profit, but using yurts for commercial properties also promotes a less environmentally evasive approach to the tourism and hospitality business.
In some areas such as Europe, the Eastern US mountains, and some deserts, yurts are already being offered in place of hotel rooms and campsites for their inspirational and roomy design. Although the original yurt was a very basic structure, yurts have expanded into intricate architectural masterpieces, able to capture the spirit of any environment or theme. It is for their easy versatility that yurts are now seen in Fiji, Hawai’i, and the Caribbean not as residential structures, but as extravagant time shares and outdoor resorts.
Although the notion would not be favorable to many investors, these circular structures may hold the potential to protect property prices from skyrocketing. Because yurts are not high dollar investments, they do not tremendously increase the value of the land they sit on. The cost to manufacture and erect a single yurt is less than what it would cost to build a single hotel room, the structure does not increase the value of the land significantly, and subsequently, does not increase the value of the land surrounding it. This unique concept presents the possibility of capitalization without heavily impacting the surrounding cultural and economical balance as significantly as large conventional hotels do. If commercial projects were to begin installing yurts onto their properties, rather than engineering and constructing a full sky rise, not only would the environmental impact be severely lessened, but the surrounding properties would not jump up in price, leaving them attainable for Hawai’ian residents to enjoy.
In their more traditional setting, yurts are used for residential use as permanent dwellings. In most cases, a residential yurt is a free standing structure with an occasional room built off one area for a bathroom. In some more modernized instances, some yurts set-ups will feature a central yurt, with one or more breezeways leading to additional yurts for a more roomy alternative to the original single dwelling style. However, because yurts are such a livable and modestly price dwelling, the implementation of these structures into residential communities may be the first step towards a more affordable Hawai’ian housing market.