City housing deal in jeopardy

City housing deal in jeopardy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sale of the city's 12 affordable housing complexes is on the brink of collapse but renters say the deal didn't make sense in the first place.

Jane Pascual has lived at one of those projects -- Chinatown Gateway Plaza -- for about four years. She says the sale will double her rent to about $2,100 a month over the next five year.

And the economic hardship will be worse for working class tenants that live in her building, she said.

"The rents are going to go up if this sale closes," she said.

"It will displace residents."

Chinatown Gateway Plaza resident Steve Lohse added: "I can tell you personally this is very stressful. A lot of residents are being forced out already just from the fear and uncertainty."

Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners has been trying to buy the city's 1,000 affordable apartments for more than 18 months. But city says the deal is in limbo.

According to HAHP, lenders have walked away from the $142 million deal after the city council introduced a bill to kill the sale.

City officials are giving the buyer until Monday to show that it can complete the deal. The city said it needs the deal to help balance its budget.

The deal involves the sale of nearly 1,000 affordable apartments. The projects including Chinatown Gateway Plaza, Marin Tower on Smith Street, Hale P

Meanwhile, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration has already budgeted about $20 million for the proceeds from the sale. If it collapses, it will have to find the money elsewhere or make cuts.

"We intend to continue to work with the buyer, to determine if anything, anything, anything can be done to save the sale and close by March 31st," city Managing Director Ember Shinn said on Friday.

The city said it's considering alternatives, including owner financing. But that will be a hard sell since that will require city council approval.

Renters say its unfair to balance on the budget on the backs of affordable housing tenants.

"They rushed to budget tens of millions of dollars that they don't have," Lohse said.

"This is terribly fiscally irresponsible."

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.