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Tue Jun 19, 2018, 09:34 AM

Should Hawaii Hotels Help Their Workers Buy Homes?

Hawaii has record visitor spending but many hotel employees still canít afford to buy homes.
By Anita Hofschneider / June 18, 2018
Jowenna Ellazar spends eight hours a day changing sheets, scrubbing toilets and wiping down surfaces in hotel rooms at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki.

Then she drives an hour and a half back to Mililani in Central Oahu, where the 27-year-old lives in a four-bedroom house with her boyfriend, two children, two brothers, sister-in-law and parents.

Ellazar is one of thousands of workers who are the backbone of Hawaiiís thriving visitor industry. But she canít afford to buy a home in the state where she was born and raised.

Unite Here Local 5, a union representing 11,000 service workers, is gearing up for contract negotiations to start next month. Apart from wages and benefits, the union is asking for something new: Money from the hotels to help workers become homeowners.


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