Sharon Hirota


Quit My Job or Stay?

Ep. 49 - Imagine being in a situation where your boss resigns, you're chosen to replace him, but then he decided not to quit? Big decision to make, right?  Well, that was Sharon Hirota a while back, at a crossroads whether to go back to her old job or just leave. She had been with the agency for 16 years. She had demonstrated her creativity. When her housing program needed a shot of creativity in decreasing the waiting list turnover, she developed a new program for families on the waiting list, using her own personal experience to bring a new perspective. She was married young and family-oriented, and she shared her philosophy of housing with the low-income families on the waiting list - and it worked!

Top Takeaways: 


    • How to use creativity to help people in the community access opportunities like housing quickly as they need
    • The importance of seizing the available opportunity even when it's uncomfortable as you grow
    • Helping members of the community address their financial barriers for free and without judgment
    • Learning to take the risk without fear of failure but rather with an open mind to opportunities

Listen in to learn how Sharon established a program that's helping the community address their financial barriers without shame and for free.

"When I look at the word affordable housing, affordable is defined in different ways. It depends on who you are based on your income, asset, and household composition." -Sharon Hirota

Sharon is a native of the Big Island of Hawaii. She is helping Hawaii with homelessness solutions.

She finally decided to leave and was offered the job of the Mayor's Executive Assistant. In her new job, with the realization that affordability of housing was becoming a major hurdle, she championed a new program, ALICE, to integrate developers into the constraints and promote housing choices in development.

She proves every day that creativity and innovation is possible at all levels of government even within the regulatory environment.

Her podcast is full of valuable life lessons for young people starting out in their careers or those who want to make a career change later in life!

Learn how Sharon working in the mayor's office is helping people in this category become more economically sufficient.

Key Moments:

Sharon explains how she got creative within the housing program and helped people in the waitlist access housing quicker [2:07]

The process she used to help move the housing voucher program quicker and the advice she gave people to utilize available resources [4:22]

She describes how her career journey has changed recently from the voucher program manager to working directly under the mayor [15:13]

How the financial empowerment center is working towards helping all members of the community address their financial barriers [19:59]

How to make affordability an individual issue according to the nature of one's job [22:02]

Understanding the meaning of ALICE and the need to move people out of it as a way to better their lives economically [25:49]

The role of social services and foundations in helping move Hawaiian people from ALICE to an economically sufficient space [29:02]

The advice that Sharon has for people looking to balance work-life balance [31:58]

Relevant Links

Waiting List

Hawaii County

Hawaii Tribune Herald

Emergency Shelter

Homeless Shelter

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