The Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice is a nonprofit organization working to build a more socially just Hawaii, where everyone has genuine opportunities to achieve economic security and fulfill their potential. We change systems that perpetuate inequality and injustice through policy development, legislative advocacy, coalition building, and litigation.
State of Poverty 2016 Report Released
In April 2016, the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice released a report entitled “The State of Poverty in Hawai‘i: How Hawaii’s Residents Are Faring Post-Recovery.” The report brings together the most recent available data to provide a snapshot of how low-income residents have fared after the economic recovery.
Unemployment is low and our residents are working. However, low wages, high housing costs, and disproportionately high taxes on low-income workers have combined to give Hawai‘i the sixth highest rate of poverty in the country. Forty-five percent of families with children do not have enough money to meet their basic needs without public assistance.
By reforming the tax system, adopting policies that promote affordable housing, and increasing the minimum wage, we can transform Hawai‘i into a place where everyone has a genuine opportunity to become self-sufficient. Read the full report here.
New Appleseed Study: Financial Struggles of Hawaii's Working Families
In February 2016, on behalf of Hawaii Appleseed, QMark Research conducted a telephone consumer survey to study the personal financial struggles of Hawaii's working families. The study revealed significant financial instability for many families, with nearly half of Hawaii residents living paycheck to paycheck. Tax credits that let low and moderate income working families keep more of what they earn would provide a measure of relief to many struggling families, a concept which six out of seven respondents (86%) supported. Click here for a more complete summary of the study, and here for the press release.
New Appleseed Report: Creating a State Earned Income Tax Credit
Appleseed’s January 2016 report, “Cutting Taxes to Strengthen the Economy and Boost Hawai‘i’s Families: A Refundable State Earned Income Tax Credit ,” details the many social and economic benefits linked to the Earned Income Tax Credit. The credit not only helps families afford day-to-day necessities, but also primes the local economic pump. The EITC has been associated with improved school performance and future earnings for children; increased working hours and economic resiliency for adults; and increased economic activity for local businesses. Click here to learn more.
2016 Legislative Session
It's time Hawaii got serious about tax equity. Last session we were able to get the first piece of tax equity legislation passed in 9 years and we are continuing to move our tax fairness bills forward. Learn more about our priorities here.
Our Fourth Annual Artists for Appleseed event last week raised over $60,000 in funding for our social justice work—and it was a whole lot of fun! Thank you to everyone that made it possible: our participating artists, our volunteers, our honorees and everyone who attended and helped turn the event into a great evening for all.
Hawai‘i Appleseed is part of a partnership to help young people sign up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to realize their full potential in education, employment, and their community. DACA allows eligible undocumented young people to remain in the U.S. Go to www.hidaca.org to learn more and get started!
2015 Legislative Recap
The 2015 session has just ended and a number of bills supported by Hawai‘i Appleseed are headed to the Governor's desk! Bills for fairer taxes, expanded access to drivers' licenses for immigrants and other vulnerable groups, and Preschool Open Doors, and funding for affordable housing and homelessness have all passed.
Appleseed’s July 2014 report, “Hawai‘i’s Affordable Housing Crisis: The High Cost of Our Affordable Housing Shortfall,” details the severity of Hawai‘i’s housing shortage and the financial strain it places on our working families, compiling the facts and figures that illustrate the dire housing situation facing Hawai‘i. Click here to learn more.
Hawai‘i Appleseed issued a report titled “Helping Make Ends Meet: Increasing SNAP and EITC Participation Among Eligible Households in Hawai‘i” that examines the severe underutilization of these two fully federally-funded programs in Hawai‘i, SNAP and EITC, and recommends new opportunities to build upon current outreach efforts and significantly increase participation in our state. Click here to view the report.
Appleseed’s April 2014 policy brief, "Accessory Dwelling Units: Expanding Affordable Housing Options in Hawai‘i" explores the broader use of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Hawai‘i as an option for creating more affordable housing. Click here to read more.
On December 3, 2013, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services for violating federal law by failing to pay foster parents enough to adequately care for the foster children in their homes. Longtime foster parent Raynette Nalani Ah Chong filed the suit on behalf of more than 1000 foster parents in the state who have been short-changed because the state has failed to increase the payments since 1990. The federal Child Welfare Act requires that reimbursements cover the expenses of children in foster care, but the $529 per month payment — set by the state nearly a quarter century ago — does not come close. Had the payment been adjusted for inflation, it would be over $950. Read more
In November 2013, Hawai‘i Appleseed released two reports: "Reimagining Housing in Hawai‘i" detailing successful affordable housing models like microunits, ohana housing, modular housing, among others and "Creating a Fairer State Tax System and Economy for All Families," outlining our 5 policy strategies we aim to pursue in the 2014 legislative session. Click here to read more.
Hawai‘i Appleseed, along with pro bono partners Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, filed a federal court class action lawsuit on Sept. 6, 2013 against the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation. Plaintiffs Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), a faith-based grassroots community advocacy non-profit, and two Hawai‘i residents whose names are being concealed to prevent potential retaliation, allege that HDOT is discriminating against Hawai‘i residents of various ethnic and national origins by failing to allow translation or interpretation of the written driver’s exam necessary to obtain a driver’s license. Read more