Hawaii Public Housing Authority

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Hawaii provides federal and state public housing for low-income residents. The programs are administered by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority using both U.S. Housing and Urban Development and state guidelines.

In Hawaii’s federal housing projects, the average household income is $12,418. About 39 percent of households have income from jobs, 39 percent receive welfare assistance, 52 percent have Social Security or pension income and 24 percent receive money from other sources.

The state has 67 federal and 14 state public housing developments statewide with a total of 6,208 units. Most of the public housing complexes are on Oahu, which has 43 housing projects with a total of 4,904 units. Sixteen of those are limited to elderly tenants.

The largest public housing developments on Oahu include Kuhio Park Terrace in Kalihi, with 614 units, and Kalihi Valley Homes, which has 400 units. Mayor Wright Homes on the edge of Chinatown has 364 units, while three different complexes in Palolo Valley have a total of 421 units.

Not all units are inhabitable, however, and in 2005 the state started tackling a backlog of repairs and renovations that were estimated then to cost $600 million. The five year capital improvement plan from 2009 to 2013 budgets about $7.8 million a year for physical repairs.

One of the first major public housing undertakings Gov. Neil Abercrombie made after he was elected was to restore spotty hot water service at Mayor Wright. As of June 2011, gas-power tankless heater systems were installed in each of the 35 buildings. Construction took about three months and cost $514,800 to complete.

In addition to upgrading the aging units, the state has also been working to curb violence at its public housing developments. In the 1990s, Mayor Wright Homes became the first public housing site designated for a Weed and Seed program, which uses aggressive law enforcement to “weed” out crime.

The seeds are social services and community programs brought in to help improve quality of life for all residents and provide positive activities for children. Between 1997 and 2002, the Weed and Seed program in the Kalihi, Palama and Chinatown area led to significant reduction in crime — with a 67 percent decrease in murder, larceny theft and aggravated assault and a 75 percent reduction in assaults, vandalism, prostitution, weapons offenses and drug laws.

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Hawaii Public Housing Authority
What Will It Take to Make Hawaii’s Vacant Public Housing Units Habitable? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

What Will It Take to Make Hawaii’s Vacant Public Housing Units Habitable?

A lack of funds hampers the effort, and even after contracts are awarded, a slow permit process can delay the work. Federal regulations make shortcuts difficult, but Housing Authority officials are looking for solutions.
Why Are 175 Public Housing Units Sitting Vacant While Honolulu Struggles to Find Housing for the Homeless? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Why Are 175 Public Housing Units Sitting Vacant While Honolulu Struggles to Find Housing for the Homeless?

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority was severely shortchanged by the governor and the Legislature for money to repair vacant units. Unions also blocked continuation of a civil service exemption for maintenance crews, a program that was helping reduce the backlog.
State Settles Suit Over Substandard Public Housing for $350K Cory Lum/Civil Beat

State Settles Suit Over Substandard Public Housing for $350K

But with a $275 million backlog, attorneys worry that the state is reverting back to under-funding public housing repairs.
Lawsuit Claims Hawaii Public Housing Security Guards Beat Up Residents Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lawsuit Claims Hawaii Public Housing Security Guards Beat Up Residents

The alleged beatings include one where a security guard grabbed someone by the hair and threw him into a closed door for riding his bike.
Public Housing Is Crumbling, So What’s State Doing About It? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Public Housing Is Crumbling, So What’s State Doing About It?

Gov. David Ige cut funding to repair aging public housing to $5 million despite a 10-year backlog exceeding $820 million.
Sen. Chun Oakland Seeks $220M for Affordable Housing in Hawaii

Sen. Chun Oakland Seeks $220M for Affordable Housing in Hawaii

The senator wants state funds to subsidize rental housing for poor people.

$11M Renovations Start at Palolo Public Housing

An $11 million modernization project at Palolo Valley Homes will break ground today. It’s part of a $92 million…
More Appointees Snub Hawaii Governor

More Appointees Snub Hawaii Governor

Total resisting Abercrombie resignation request is up to 11.
Hot Water Woes Evaporate at Mayor Wright

Hot Water Woes Evaporate at Mayor Wright

After years of hot water problems at Hawaii public housing project, governor says repairs are complete.
Auditor: Poor Management of Hawaii Public Housing Puts Federal Funds at Risk

Auditor: Poor Management of Hawaii Public Housing Puts Federal Funds at Risk

Report finds long maintenance backlog and 9,000 Hawaii families waiting.
Abercrombie: Mayor Wright Hot Water Woes To Be Fixed Immediately

Abercrombie: Mayor Wright Hot Water Woes To Be Fixed Immediately

UPDATE Hawaii governor told residents to hold him accountable.
Abercrombie: Hold Me Accountable

Abercrombie: Hold Me Accountable

Hawaii governor tells Mayor Wright public housing residents to "hold him to account" for restoring hot water.