West Hawaii Housing Summit- An idea for connection around a housing crisis


One of the reasons I earned my real estate license is to spearhead a housing summit with the West Hawaii Association of REALTORS (WHAR) . I have a passion for housing opportunities, having almost been homeless myself in my twenties and raising two teens on this island who I would like to see stay!  I also believe in the concept of homeownership for stability in our communities.

Why a Housing Summit in Kona?

As a Communications Director with four different real estate associations in the SF Bay Area, I conceived and implemented five “Housing Expo’s” that were mainly geared toward educating the public on how to buy a home, how to get a mortgage, etc. We need that AND advocacy and connecting the right people at the right time to help solve the housing crisis we now face.

THEY Should DO Something!

While living in West Hawaii over the course of the last 15 years, I have seen the possibility of owning a home and finding affordable rentals spiral out of the hopes of most of the renters, families and young adults I call friends and fellow residents. I always hear, “THEY should do something”. We have been waiting for THEY for a very long time. I have been asking housing industry professionals and politicians and long time residents for years now about WHAT should be done and HOW?  I get a common answer, “It’s a vexing issue”.

No Finger Pointing

There are quite a few reasons why West Hawaii (and the island) are in this position and instead of pointing fingers about NIMBYism, planning, permitting, etc, my goal (with a group of passionate volunteers!)  is to bring together the people who are tied most directly to the housing market and that is REALTORS and people who work in the industry, along with stakeholders, politicians, renters, residents and business owners of West Hawaii who struggle with finding housing.

Where will our young adults live?

I am presenting the following idea today to WHAR in order to start the planning process of a West Hawaii Housing Summit. It will most likely morph as I open this up to more people and organizations, but with morphing, comes ideas and energy, which we will need to make this event a success and an annual event.


West Hawaii is suffering from a housing crisis in terms of lack of rental apartments, attainable housing for our community and push back from community members on building.

WHAR can be the leader on gathering key members in the community AND the public to educate/learn/connect and make an impact on the future of housing in West Hawaii.

A way to do that is to spearhead a Housing Summit.

Here are a few ideas on what the Summit could contain:

  1. Invite an economist to discuss where we’ve recently been, where we are, trends to look into the rest of the quarter.
  2. Where the County is on new housing development and future plans. – Mayor Roth and our County Council ppl.
  3. A panel on “What West Hawaii Buyers Should Know Now” with audience Q and A
  4. A place where booths are set up with housing related companies, including non-profits,  that is open for free to the public

Long term goal to create an annual event to –

  1. Be seen as the leader on housing in West Hawaii to homeowners, the public and housing organizations
  2. Tell our govt officials we care, we are watching and we need a plan for addressing the crisis
  3. Provide free housing information and resources to the public, including non-profits
  4. Give the Realtor members a chance to talk to the public directly in an easy environment to share information

 Time Frame: February – April

Funding: Apply for a grant from the National Assoc of REALTORS and perhaps Hawaii County. A grant will help pay for the venue and working with WHAR the task force volunteers will develop an event program/approach sponsors/sell booths.

Venue: A large venue, such as the Outrigger convention center. Half the space will be vendors/education and open free to the public and half will be ticketed with speakers and panels.

Volunteers: REALTOR members of WHAR and community stakeholders

We are the THEY.

Join in!

Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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