These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2018


We used science and data to determine which places in Hawaii are basically dead broke.

Join RoadSnacks

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

Hawaii brings to mind images of Honolulu, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Hawaii has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Hawaii that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 58 places in Hawaii with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Aloha State for 2018:

  1. Hawaiian Beaches
  2. Makaha (Photos)
  3. Waianae (Photos)
  4. Maili (Photos)
  5. Hawaiian Paradise Park
  6. Nanakuli (Photos)
  7. Waipio Acres
  8. Wahiawa (Photos)
  9. Hilo (Photos)
  10. Kailua Cdp (Hawaii County) (Photos)

Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.

And according to the facts, Hawaiian Beaches is the poorest place in Hawaii for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Hawaii or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Hawaii For 2018

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest places’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The ‘median household income adjusted for the cost of living’ attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 58 places with more than 5,000 people in Hawaii, we ranked each place from 1 to 58 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a ‘Poor Score’ with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Hawaiian Beaches, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Hawaii For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 58 places.

1. Hawaiian Beaches


Population: 5,035
Median Income: $34,293
Unemployment Rate: 19.3%
Poverty Rate: 29.9%
More on Hawaiian Beaches: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Hawaiian Beaches, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Hawaii thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 5,035 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Hawaii and the 1st highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

2. Makaha

Makaha, Hawaii

Population: 8,934
Median Income: $52,035
Unemployment Rate: 16.6%
Poverty Rate: 28.1%
More on Makaha: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Hawaii is Makaha.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Aloha State.

User comment that mentions Makaha: Definitely on the outside looking in. I’ve lived it what some would call the ghetto on the mainland. I currently live in Makaha and love it here. I drive through Nanakuli everyday on my way home. The worst part about living here is the traffic. Is there crime, well that’s a stupid question, where there are people there is crime. If you come here respecting the locals you won’t have much problems. One silly fact you overlooked, poor people don’t steel from poor people, they would rather head to the rich communities for the nice stuff. I feel safe in Makaha been here for many years with my family and we love it. You can still find plenty of Aloha from most people in Hawaii, don’t judge people and live life with Love and Aloha and you will find it is usually returned.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

3. Waianae

Waianae, Hawaii

Population: 13,426
Median Income: $58,807
Unemployment Rate: 13.7%
Poverty Rate: 25.9%
More on Waianae: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Waianae’s median income ranks as the 10th lowest.

And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 25.9% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Aloha State.

4. Maili

Maili, Hawaii

Population: 8,943
Median Income: $59,116
Unemployment Rate: 14.3%
Poverty Rate: 20.6%
More on Maili: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Maili ranks as the fourth poorest place in Hawaii.

The town ranks as having the 11th lowest median household income and the 6th highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Hawaiian Paradise Park


Population: 11,787
Median Income: $47,181
Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
Poverty Rate: 29.9%
More on Hawaiian Paradise Park: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Hawaii is Hawaiian Paradise Park.

The city ranks as having the 2nd lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 1st highest in Hawaii.

Still not the best news for Hawaiian Paradise Park.

User comment that mentions Hawaiian Paradise Park: I’m sorry to inform you, but Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park are not a cities. They are subdivisions of a city.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

6. Nanakuli

Nanakuli, Hawaii

Population: 12,042
Median Income: $63,724
Unemployment Rate: 13.2%
Poverty Rate: 18.5%
More on Nanakuli: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Nanakuli ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Aloha State.

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.

7. Waipio Acres


Population: 5,169
Median Income: $65,160
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Poverty Rate: 15.1%
More on Waipio Acres: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Waipio Acres places as the seventh poorest city in Hawaii.

The city of over 5,169 ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Wahiawa

Wahiawa, Hawaii

Population: 17,696
Median Income: $55,744
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 15.4%
More on Wahiawa: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Wahiawa ranks as the eighth poorest city in Hawaii.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 20th highest in the state.

User comment that mentions Wahiawa: I used to live in Wahiawa, it was pretty seedy out there. It reminded me of some more rundown mainland cities in a way because of how paved over a lot of it was Meth was a problem for sure. I did see drug addicted hookers. A lot of wannabe gangsters were around but they always respected me and my ways. ||||If you were a white military man you probably didn’t exactly love it. Enlisted men would walk over from base to the McDonalds and would have to cross the bridge back and forth. Occasionally kids would hang out there and kick/snatch the food bags from their hands. If the enlisted guy made a fuss about it, some big dudes would emerge to make sure they kept on going. ||||A couple weeks after I moved back to the Kapahulu area one of my neighbors was shot and killed because he tried to intervene in a domestic argument outside of our old apartment building. ||||I can’t say I missed much about living in Wahiawa.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

9. Hilo

Hilo, Hawaii

Population: 45,579
Median Income: $55,815
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Poverty Rate: 17.4%
More on Hilo: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Hilo couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Hawaii; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 7th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Hilo ranks as having the 8th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Hawaii.

10. Kailua Cdp (Hawaii County)

Source: Public Domain

Population: 13,617
Median Income: $61,629
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Poverty Rate: 12.3%
More on Kailua CDP (Hawaii County): Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Hawaii is Kailua CDP (Hawaii County).

The city of 13,617 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Aloha State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Hawaii For 2018

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Hawaii, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Hawaii.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Hawaii, according to data:

Richest: Mililani Mauka
2nd Richest: East Honolulu
3rd Richest: Ewa Gentry

For more Hawaii reading , check out:

  • 10 Best Places To Live In Hawaii
  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Hawaii
  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Hawaii
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Hawaii

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Hawaiian Beaches 29.9%
    2 Makaha 28.1%
    3 Waianae 25.9%
    4 Maili 20.6%
    5 Hawaiian Paradise Park 29.9%
    6 Nanakuli 18.5%
    7 Waipio Acres 15.1%
    8 Wahiawa 15.4%
    9 Hilo 17.4%
    10 Kailua Cdp (Hawaii County) 12.3%
    11 Waimea Cdp (Hawaii County) 14.0%
    12 Wailuku 12.9%
    13 Schofield Barracks 6.6%
    14 Makawao 13.4%
    15 Kapaa 14.0%
    16 Kalaoa 15.1%
    17 Holualoa 10.5%
    18 Kahului 9.4%
    19 Kihei 8.7%
    20 Wailua Homesteads 7.6%
    21 Wailea 13.3%
    22 Waipahu 12.8%
    23 Urban Honolulu 12.1%
    24 Kaneohe Station 5.0%
    25 Waimanalo 21.9%
    26 Lihue 9.1%
    27 Ewa Beach 10.0%
    28 Waihee-Waiehu 7.4%
    29 Lahaina 7.6%
    30 Haiku-Pauwela 7.4%
    31 Hickam Housing 6.6%
    32 Ahuimanu 9.4%
    33 Hanamaulu 6.5%
    34 Kalaheo 9.3%
    35 Kula 13.0%
    36 Laie 11.7%
    37 Pukalani 7.5%
    38 Kapolei 5.0%
    39 Napili-Honokowai 4.7%
    40 Waikoloa Village 5.2%
    41 Pearl City 5.1%
    42 Kahaluu 8.8%
    43 Makakilo 4.5%
    44 Waimalu 6.8%
    45 Halawa 9.8%
    46 West Loch Estate 4.4%
    47 Waipio 6.5%
    48 Kaneohe 6.2%
    49 Mililani Town 5.2%
    50 Royal Kunia 3.0%
    51 Kailua Cdp (Honolulu County) 4.5%
    52 Ewa Villages 2.1%
    53 Waikele 1.7%
    54 Aiea 6.0%
    55 Ocean Pointe 3.7%
    56 Ewa Gentry 3.3%
    57 East Honolulu 3.7%
    58 Mililani Mauka 2.0%

    Like RoadSnacks on Facebook:

     Poorest 

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *