VIDEO: High Cost of Housing on Maui Explored in Documentary

May 23, 2014, 10:46 AM HST · Updated June 4, 10:18 AM
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Joe Kent.

Joe Kent.

By David Kvasnicka

Local teacher and political candidate, Joe Kent, has produced the documentary “Price of Paradise,” which seeks answers on the housing situation on Maui.

Kent says the idea to make the film was inspired by his and others’ inability to find affordable housing on the island. In the documentary, he interviews economists, landlords, developers, real estate professionals, and others.

The documentary explores whether it’s mainly ill-conceived government regulation that has created the unworkable housing situation on Maui, largely exonerating landlords who he says are most-often — and unjustifiably –blamed.

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The documentary took four months to complete, and it was done on a shoestring budget, he says.

“I wanted to explore the question, ‘Why is rent getting more expensive?’ and explain it in a way that kindergarteners could understand. That’s where being a kindergarten teacher helps. I’m so happy with the finished video — I believe it’s clear, it’s simple to understand, and just addictive to watch.”

Kent teaches music at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina, kindergarten through 5th grade.

“It’s the best job in the world, but over the years living in Lahaina, my apartment has raised my rent every year by so much that I really can’t afford to live on Maui anymore,” says Kent. “It’s been a very frustrating experience going on Craigslist every day and seeing nothing but high prices and horror stories. Prices are going up, and quality is going down.”

Kent says he is moving back to his hometown of Hilo, where he says rent can be “half as cheap” in some places.

Meanwhile, Kent is also running for the US House’s District 2 (a seat currently held by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard) as a libertarian. While he acknowledges he’s unlikely to win, he hopes to learn from the process from his first time and “make a difference.”

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