If I had a billion dollars...
This is a good story when you're feeling overwhelmed and unhappy with how harsh this world can be and how difficult life can be:
Japanese billionaire hands over multimillion-dollar homes to low-income families
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2007 8:57 PM ET
HONOLULU (AP) - Japanese real estate mogul Genshiro Kawamoto handed over three of his many multimillion-dollar homes in Oahu's priciest neighbourhood to homeless and low-income Native Hawaiian families on Thursday.
Tears ran down Dorie-Ann Kahele's cheeks as she accepted the key to a white columned house worth nearly US$5 million. Her family will live in the mansion rent-free.
Kahele, 39, and her five daughters had been living in one small room at a homeless shelter for the past five years.
"What we need to do is appreciate," said Kahele. "As fast as we got it, it could disappear."
Kawamoto, whose eyes started welling up when Kahele cried, said he will not charge the families anything to live in the homes. They will, however, have to pay their own utility bills.
Kawamoto plans to open eight of his 22 Kahala neighbourhood homes to needy Hawaiian families. He says they will be able to stay in the homes for up to 10 years.
The billionaire is one of Japan's richest men and owns dozens of office buildings in downtown Tokyo.
Kawamoto, who lives half of the year in Tokyo and half in Hawaii, said he was embarking on the unusual venture because it made him happy.
He added it showed more dedication to helping Hawaii's homeless than just handing out cash.
Kawamoto laughed when asked if he was concerned about losing money on the effort, saying, "This is pocket money for me."
Kahele became homeless two years ago when her landlord raised her rent from US$800 to $1,200, putting the apartment beyond reach of her salary as a customer service representative.
© The Canadian Press, 2007