To say that times are tough would be understating the obvious here in Maui County—or quite possibly, especially here—for the nearly 40,000 who are unemployed….
A young man stood at the exit of a popular shopping spot parking lot as car after car streamed past him. He held up a cardboard sign pleading his case: “Homeless. Hungry. Need a job. Anything will help. God bless.” But because he was invisible to them, the shoppers didn’t meet the defeated gaze of a man much too young to wear it. So if that sign doesn’t work, then neither does he.
I have seen many young people who have migrated to Maui from their Mainland homes with high hopes for a fresh start. Now they are here, trapped by their inability to make a living and unable to simply hitch a ride to the next state where opportunities for work might be better. Their imagined promise of paradise is now profiled in stark contrast to the harsh reality of the homelessness they face.
You can find them at the entrances of many of our main shopping areas. I often stop and talk to these young “desperados,” many of whom are still filled with youthful optimism, but aren’t at all happy about begging for anything. But their situations have evolved to the point that makes finding work (a much more complicated process than merely applying for a job) very difficult. Most have no transportation and no secure place to get a good night’s sleep. The conundrum: they want jobs so they can buy a vehicle and rent a place to live.
Why did they come here to seek employment, you might ask? I don’t think they intentionally stranded themselves far from friends and family as part of a self-imposed austerity plan—but are victims of their own strategic errors in judgment. Paradise was not found, as they had dreamed, and now they are lost.