Deplorable living conditions at Mayor Wright Housing result in s - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Deplorable living conditions at Mayor Wright Housing result in settlement for tenants

Image of conditions inside Mayor Wright Housing Image of conditions inside Mayor Wright Housing
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

"Rat and roach infestation, garbage overflow, winds spewing the garbage wherever they might blow them. No hot water.” Victor Geminiani of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice briefly outlined the deplorable living conditions at Mayor Wright Housing.

Those conditions existed prior to the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Center, along with the firm Alston, Hunt, Floyd and Ing against the state.

"There were rats and cats getting things from the garbage and bringing them to the units where we were," said resident Kazner Alexander.

Along with testimony, photographic images were used as evidence in the case.

"Severe lack of maintenance resulted in what can only be described as gaping holes in portions of bathrooms and kitchens," said attorney John Rhee of Alston, Hunt, Floyd and Ing.

Other images show pieces of wood used to prop up a bathroom sink and duct tape being used to seal a bathtub repair.

Fixes were made, but only after the lawsuit was filed.

The settlement calls for continued maintenance and $350,000 to be awarded to tenants. It's not much, given it'll be split among some 400 households, minus attorney fees.

"All the tenants at Mayor Wright and at other public housing projects are looking for is just basic simple things, their most basic needs to be met," said Gavin Thornton of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority released a statement on the settlement. It reads:

The HPHA is aware of the lawsuit that was initiated many years ago and well before the last administration and management. Although all conditions such as hot water and deteriorating walls and ceilings were addressed many years ago, the HPHA decided, after discussions and advice from our attorneys that it is in the best interests of the tenants and taxpayers to settle this matter. Tenants and management are pleased with the great improvements resulting in 99% occupancy, a safer environment and better quality housing at Mayor Wright Homes. We are equally pleased that we will be undergoing a compete redevelopment of this six decade old housing project in the near future.

-Hakim Ouansafi, Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority

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