Located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, Hawaii is the most remote island chain in the world. The distance creates a kind of splendid isolation, with these Polynesian islands removed from all but one another. Hawaii consists of eight major islands and 124 minor islands with reefs and shoals strung across the Pacific for over 1,500 miles. The eight major islands, providing more than 99% of the total land area, are Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe (uninhabited) and Niihau (privately owned).
With Hawaii’s offerings of a diverse culture, subtropical weather, vibrant ecosystems and the “aloha spirit” of the people, the Hawaiian archipelago has long been considered among the world’s most desirable places to live. But for many of today’s residents, living in paradise has become a daily struggle. The extreme disparity between low-wage positions and high-cost housing, coupled with decades of inadequate affordable housing development has resulted in the lowest rate of home ownership in the nation, a severe need for low-income rental housing and the fastest growing homeless population in the county. (Published 2007.)