Another resident received a similar letter for a $37 unpaid bill, a city official said.

The management of a state-owned affordable apartment property for seniors is threatening to terminate the lease of an elderly resident over a 50 cent debt. 

Residents say it’s just the latest indignity suffered by people who live at the Queen Street complex.

The move by Locations Hawaii’s property management division has drawn criticism from elected officials who have taken interest in the Honuakaha Elderly Housing Apartments after complaints by residents.

Low-income kupuna living in the Kakaako project have complained of problems ranging from black mold and faulty appliances to the case of a dead resident who tenants say Locations Hawaii agreed to check on only after repeated complaints of a bad smell coming from the apartment.

Locations Hawaii, which manages the state-owned Honuakaha Elderly Housing Apartments at 545 Queen St., has come under fire from residents. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

While residents say they have little choice but to endure poor living conditions under Locations Hawaii’s management, Locations Hawaii showed little patience with resident Rosie Esther Pristow.

“DEMAND IS HEREBY MADE for the payment of rent and other amounts currently due and owing,” the company said in a letter, dated April 12, to Pristow from Megan Winquest of Locations Property Management Division. “Failure to make payment of all rent in full by April 23, 2023, will result in the termination of your Rental Agreement on April 24, 2023.”

The reason for the demand: “You have not paid $0.50 in rent and other amounts.”

The letter explained that Pristow could be evicted because of the lease cancellation but would have the chance to challenge the eviction in court.

While Locations Hawaii did not return calls for comment, Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki said he and other officials had met on Tuesday with Locations, which promised to retract the letter. (Submitted)

Winquest didn’t return a call for comment, and a call placed to Locations’ main number also was not returned.

But state and city officials say they spoke about the letter on Tuesday with executives from Locations Hawaii and the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which owns Honuakaha. Although the property falls under a condominium association, the Hawaii Community Development Authority also controls the association, with three of five board members coming from the authority.

“We talked to the management company about that letter, and it shouldn’t have gone out,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki, who represents the district where Honuakaha is located. “They’re going to retract it.”

The letters appear to have been sent out by an automated system, Saiki said. Part of the issue is that the property now has no resident manager on site.

Honolulu City Council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said the 50-cent demand letter was not an isolated incident. Another resident received a similar letter for a $37 unpaid bill, he said.

“This whole 50 cents and $37 thing is silly,” he said.

Developed by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, Honuakaha includes 141 350-square-foot studios and nine one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors. It also has 93 condominiums that are owned by residents. Renters previously interviewed by Civil Beat said they pay between $600 and $800 monthly.

Honolulu City Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, left, Hawaii Sen. Sharon Moriwaki and House Speaker Scott Saiki held a town hall meeting with Honuakaha on April 12. (Stewart Yerton/Civil Beat/2023)

Bobae Kim, a Honuakaha resident who has become an unofficial leader of a resident group, said Locations Hawaii often ignored complaints until lawmakers got involved. Earlier this month, Saiki, Dos Santos-Tam and Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, the senator for Honuakaha’s district, held a town hall meeting attended by about three dozen residents and Craig Nakamoto, executive director of the development authority. 

Saiki said there will be another town hall meeting after Locations Hawaii hires a new resident manager. But he said the company has had problems hiring good staff amid a tight labor market.

“We haven’t had a resident manager in months,” Kim said. “The good people either quit, or we get people who are rude and demeaning to the residents.”

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