Mayor Wright makes major strides in crime reduction - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayor Wright makes major strides in crime reduction

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Crime is down. Way down in a public housing facility known for violence.

Mayor Wright residents say changes last year have made all the difference.

"I've been living here for almost 30 years," says Hana Eliapo. "It's a lot better, you know."

Eliapo gives her 4-year old granddaughter a push on a pink tricycle and cheers her on. Eliapo says she is no longer worried about the neighborhood kids playing in the courtyards. She credits Hakim Ouansafi for that. The Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority who took over last year, making quite a statement when it was revealed that he gave up living in his east Oahu home for three months and instead, lived in a Mayor Wright apartment unit. Trying to blend in, he didn't tell residents who he was. After the three months, he implemented dramatic changes to the complex.

"We have zero tolerance," says Ouansafi, who says some residents were give him tips on how to take advantage of the system. Those residents are no longer there.

"We did evict a few as part of this effort," says Ouansafi.

That effort included the addition of 100 light poles, a couple dozen surveillance cameras, 24-hour security patrols, some on bikes. Ouansafi also added a fence around the property, limiting access. Residents also have ID cards to show guards that they belong there.

Ouansafi says crime stats he got Tuesday from the Honolulu Police Department prove the measures have worked. Between June of 2011 and June of 2012, there were 2 murders at Mayor Wright. Since then, there have been none. Robberies and aggravated assaults have also dropped significantly. And overall crime is down 50 percent.

"It puts a smile on my face," says Ouansafi. "1200 residents (are) feeling safer."

Hana Eliapo says she can now leave her door open during the day, and she's excited about a new playground being built one courtyard over from her unit.

"To me, this is my home," she says. "It's my home, it's all of us home."

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