Tenants worried about affordable housing sale on Oahu - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tenants worried about affordable housing sale on Oahu

Ellan Taylor Ellan Taylor
Claudette Derricotte Claudette Derricotte
Sam Moku Sam Moku

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Concerned residents are putting out a plea as the city moves forward with plans to sell its 12 affordable housing complexes. They gathered in Chinatown on Tuesday to send a message to Honolulu Hale. Tenants said the new administration has been more open to discussion, but they want to make sure they're included in the decision-making process for their homes.

Ellan Taylor works full-time, but she still worries about paying $700 each month to rent her one-bedroom apartment in Marin Tower.

"A lot of people are lower income even than me, and I struggle to keep mine paid all the time, too," said Taylor.

Marin Tower is one of a dozen affordable housing projects the city has been planning to sell for years. The tenants in the 1,257 units have been fighting to protect their low rents. The city is losing roughly $3.5 million a year operating the properties across Oahu. The sale would include a condition that they remain affordable.

"I believe there is a great opportunity out there right now for the residents to get better operators, managers, and the ability to upgrade their living facility," said Sam Moku, director of the Department of Community Services.

By the end of this month, the city expects to issue a request for proposals for a consultant to help with the leasehold sale. Now, concerned residents have come up with their own requests.

"We must continually uphold conditions in any future sale that these residents will be able to stay in their homes, and appropriate mechanisms are set up to protect affordability," said Cat Wong, president of the Ohana Housing Network Oahu.

"It's our intention not to have anyone relocated out of these properties. We want to keep it affordable. We want to keep their rents stable," said Moku.

The tenants also want the city to create a residents' advisory panel.

"We want to make sure that we have a voice to help in the decision of who is going to purchase it and how they're gonna set it up," said Manoa Gardens resident Claudette Derricotte.

Moku said this is just the beginning of a long discussion, and that there will be lots of time for feedback.

"The administration is still trying to figure out the immense size of this sale, and how this will all work and benefit not only the residents, but also help the city fill in budget gaps," Moku said.

"We just have to stay a step ahead because if we get complacent, things could happen and we could all be out on the street," said Taylor.

Moku said it could take a couple of years to finish the sale. Ultimately, the city council will have the approval authority regarding the leases.

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