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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
An apartment that was rented by disabled tenants at a Waimanalo public housing project is now being used as a storage shed. The unit at the Kauhale Ohana public housing complex is the only single-story apartment on the property.
Glen Murray lives a few units down. He said the last tenant moved out over a year ago and he expected someone with special needs to move in immediately. But that hasn't happened.
"In the meantime the private contractor is using it as storage for materials and equipment. Additionally, the maintenance people use it as a break room," he said.
He believes the apartment was fit for a new tenant when the last one left. But Hawaii Public Housing Authority director Hakim Ouansafi said it wasn't
"That specific unit has severe termite issues. It also has structural issues," he said.
He said the apartment was never compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, including having proper ramps for wheelchair access.
Murray said it behooves the state to fix the unit immediately.
"It's hard enough for a regular person to get a unit in public housing, maybe like four or five years. But for a disabled person, because there's less units available, it's even a longer wait," he said.
Ouansafi said his department is moving as quickly as it can.
"We have approximately 30 projects that have ADA upgrades happening as we speak," he said.
He said it could cost up to $150,000 to fix the Kauhale Ohana apartment, but priority's being given to other projects that affect more families.
"We feel very neglected when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep of this project," Murray said.
Realty Lau'a, the company that manages Kuhio Park Terrace, manages Kauhale Ohana. Ouansafi said they have permission to use the unit as a storage shed, and when repairs are done Kauhale Ohana will have a bonus apartment.
"That project alone will get an additional unit," he said. "We will fix this unit to be ADA complaint, not just ADA friendly."
Architects are working on plans for the repair and renovation. Ouansafi said the apartment could be ready within six months to a year.