Sterling Higa: Building Hawaii’s Housing Future with Local Leaders – 71Bait

ladder work is a publishing platform for diverse picture books and online curricula with a mission to empower over a million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our latest series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders who are driving the UN SDGs.

Broadcast here with the scoop about the entrepreneurial leaders of planet earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I am pleased to present this galactic exclusive with Sterling Higa, Managing Director of Housing Hawaii’s Future. Let’s hear what’s happening at Housing Hawaii’s Future and how Sterling is positively impacting the world.

Chic: Hi Sterling, thank you so much for speaking to me today. Tell me what challenge is Housing Hawaii’s Future addressing?

Sterling: Thanks for having me Spiffy! Though Hawaii is often stereotyped as paradise, it comes at a price. The cost of living in Hawaii is higher than many locals can afford. Housing is the largest expense item for most families. The underlying economics of construction in Hawaii, a cumbersome regulatory system, and NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition groups combine to create a system where not much housing is being built at a price local families can afford. Housing Hawaii’s Future brings together students and young locals to educate themselves, engage in civic engagement and take action to address Hawaii’s housing affordability crisis.

Chic: What made you do this?

Sterling: Since graduating from public high school, I’ve watched my classmates leave to seek opportunities elsewhere. Housing costs are often the reason for leaving the country. They don’t see an opportunity to own a home in Hawaii. It’s disheartening to see friends and family separated by 2,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean. My wife and I are raising three children. I want them to have the opportunity to call Hawaii home. True sustainability means our children and grandchildren can afford to stay.

Chic: I understand. Everyone should have a home community. How would you say that your organization is working towards a fairer world?

Sterling: Housing Hawaii’s Future equips students and young locals with the knowledge and skills they need to engage in effective civic engagement. It encourages next-generation leaders to step up and lead their communities.

Chic: Tell me about a recent milestone in the organization of these leaders. What impact does it have?

Sterling: This summer we partnered with the John and Cara Odo Scholarship Foundation for their Next-Gen Leaders Summer Program. Fifteen university students spent seven weeks learning about the housing issue through discussions with industry experts. At the end of the program, they presented their work to local business and community leaders. I am confident that they will take leadership positions in the community.

Chic: Is there anything else you would like to say to our audience?

Sterling: There are no cartoon heroes or cartoon villains in life. In order to solve a complex problem, many actors have to work together. The future of Housing Hawaii is not the solution – we are part of the solution. Our community needs to come together to address this issue, and everyone needs to do their part. We hope that when young leaders engage, they will motivate the wider community to take action.

Chic: Thank you for speaking with me today Sterling – it was an honor!

Sterling Higa is often wrong, but always seeks the truth. He serves as Executive Director of Living for Hawaii’s future. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 23, 2022.)

© 2022 Leiterwerk LLC. Edited by Jason “Jackson” Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For Ladderworks’ digital curriculum designed to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Launchpad: Creative entrepreneurship workshops for K-3 kids and their caregivers here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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