Kaneohe neighbors concerned over halfway house with 18 residents

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some in the small Kaneohe neighborhood on Halemuku Way say their home is a prison because of a clean and sober house that is now allowed to have 18 people living there.

For the past nine years this house has been rented out to people with drug or alcohol issues. Some have been convicted felons. It was only supposed to have five people at a time, although there were five violations for having too many.

Now the City has approved a permit allowing 17 clean and sober residents and one live in manager.

"It's not that we're heartless, we know that it's needed we just feel 18 is just too many people to live in one house," said Adele Tejada, neighbor. "This could happen in your neighborhood and you're not going to know."

Neighbors say eight people would be fine, but 18 under one roof is too much. More than 240 neighbors signed a petition opposing the permit.

"That's a lot of traffic. That's a lot of people coming and going. You don't know who your neighbors are. You don't know who lives here and who doesn't," said Tejada. "Just because you have nine bedrooms doesn't mean you should stuff 18 people into the house."

"I don't know why we need to hide at this point in our lives. The neighbors are afraid because of their fears of the unknown. We hope that they will understand we are bettering the community by what we're doing here," said Jody Solbach, Tradition House Founder.

Jody Solbach has five halfway houses. He himself says he's been sober 23 years and believes people need a second chance.

"We are legal now we have the CUP (Conditional Use Permit). We really appreciate all of the comments from the neighbors. That is helping guide us to be a better neighbor. We humbly ask them to give us time that we can prove ourselves worthy of their respect here," said Solbach.

There are rules. Residents can't park on the street. Quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am. They can't use drugs or alcohol or be violent or sex offenders. Although one sex offender did lie and live there a little while, but they are supposed to do background checks.

"It's going to benefit them, we spend $50,000 a year to imprison them, why can't we spend $400 a month to house them in a community? The community is going to bring them back. The institutions will not," said Solbach.

"We just want to bring the numbers down. We think it's too many, 18 is too many people in one house when you live this close," said Tejada. "We want to just enjoy our homes. We don't want to be policing anybody and spying on our neighbor."

One city reviewer said the permit should have been denied because of the previous violations.

The City says it allowed the permit because it complies with the Federal Fair Housing Act. Residents are paying $400 just to appeal the decision.

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