Mayor Wright housing residents want to be in hot water - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayor Wright housing residents want to be in hot water

Residents protest Residents protest
Fetu Kolio Fetu Kolio
A Mayor Wright housing water tank A Mayor Wright housing water tank
Denise Wise Denise Wise
Mayor Wright housing Mayor Wright housing

By Teri Okita – bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A watershed moment, of sorts, for some residents at Mayor Wright public housing who formed a picket line outside the State Capitol to protest the lack of hot water in their homes.

Some say they've been living without a hot tap for years.

The residents are hoping that the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, lawmakers, and the next governor will hear their concerns and take action.

Fetu Kolio doesn't need to test the waters at home. "It's just cold," he says, as he put his hand under a stream at the kitchen sink.

Kolio says it's been this way at his two-bedroom apartment for six years. "Sometimes, you can have a rough day and not feeling too good, and you would like a little warm water."

A third of the water tanks at Mayor Wright housing haven't been replaced since the early '90's and are failing - leaving dozens of residents in the cold.

They've continued to ask the state to repair or replace the tanks, but the lukewarm response finally led them to the picket line.

Kolio says, "Whatever administration that will take the helm after the elections, we want them to really pay close attention to us living in public housing."

The Housing Authority's new executive director says she understands the frustration, but with the state's budget shortfall, there's no funding to put in a new heating system. The agency says, as the units fail, they do replace them with tankless water heaters.

"We're a landlord. We have a responsibility, and I'm trying to address it as quickly as I can with the resources that I have. And I'm sure, just like anyone else, people are tired of hearing, ‘Money, money, money. They need money'. However, it's the reality," says Denise Wise, executive director of Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

Wise acknowledges that replacing the tanks - instead of installing an entirely new system - is a Band-Aid solution. At last estimate, though, a new water heating system would cost seven million dollars.

The Housing Authority is putting together a legislative budget request for 600 thousand dollars that would replace the tanks currently in disrepair - so that residents like Fetu Kolio can be in hot water, once again.

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