Mayor Wright Homes Safer for Residents - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayor Wright Homes Safer for Residents

HPHA Executive Director, Hakim Ouansafi HPHA Executive Director, Hakim Ouansafi

Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – Sunday marks four-months since a security overhaul at a public housing complex plagued by violence. But are living conditions at Mayor Wright homes any safer now?

Residents say it is and tell HawaiiNewsNow that it's a complete turnaround from just several months ago.

Marlene Lafaele spent her whole life living at Mayor Wright homes, growing up around crime, like drug deals and murders. Crime that kept residents confined to their homes.

"They're like scared, they didn't want to come out or if they seen what happened, they won't say nothing," said Lafaele, who lives in the complex. "I guess they're afraid of retaliation, or they didn't want to get involved."

But that changed four months ago, when the public housing complex underwent major security changes.

"To keep the bad people out we had to erect fences higher and stronger, we also have to separate the residents from the elements that come in here for trouble," said HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi. "We have instituted ID cards."

They've also set a curfew, stopping cars from entering the complex after 10 p.m. and hired a new security company.

"The crimes that happened in the last three to four months were all outside Mayor Wrights, not inside Mayor Wrights," said Ouansafi.

Hakim Ouansafi says the difference is like night and day.

"The residents are taking leadership because they feel safe and have taken some steps to make sure that their neighborhood is even safer," said Ouansafi.

Steps like neighborhood walks and community clean-ups.          

"All the security measures are done. Eventually it's up to the residents to take over," said Ouansafi.

"We're learning to work together, eventually gradually were learning to get together more," said Lafaele.

Ouansafi tells HawaiiNewsNow that a new playground should be up and running within the next 2-3 months. He expects the empty apartment units in the complex to be renovated by the end of August.


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