The state outlined a new vision for one of Hawaii's oldest public housing complexes on Friday. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is looking for a developer to demolish the existing 364 units at Mayor Wright Homes and build a mixed-income community. The announcement is raising fears for some low-income families.
"This is home to them. There's a lot of children and I'm just thinking about where a lot of people are going to go," said Mayor Wright Homes resident Phyllis Faleao.
The state plans to team up with a developer to transform the 20 acre property. All of the public housing units will be replaced, addressing one of the main concerns from residents.
"We'll do it in phases. Everyone that needs to be relocated will be relocated to a suitable place and have the right to return with all the expenses paid," said HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi.
"The right of return was a huge issue and that was a huge fear I believe of a lot of the residents that we had talked to because there was a lot of uncertainty," said Leotele Togafau of Faith Action for Community Equity.
The complex is in the middle of the Transit Oriented Development area for the Iwilei rail station. The governor said all the improvements will revitalize the neighborhood.
"The very fact that it's going to be mixed-income is going to be an attraction. This ghetto idea is going to disappear. This is an exciting urban experience that people are going to want to participate in," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
There will be no rent increase due to the redevelopment, according to Ouansafi. Some residents said the changes are long overdue.
"This place has a reputation. It's been around here for quite some time now, and as far as all the old-timers here, I feel like this, yeah, we're all scared where are we going to go? If they can come up with a plan where everybody can just move folks where there will be content then so be it," said resident Lois Nicholson.
The state expects to choose a developer by October and hopes to finish the project within three years.
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