State public housing available in record time thanks to new team of contractors

State public housing available in record time thanks to new team of contractors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Filling out paperwork Donna Plunkett wasn't sure what to expect. But a half hour after sitting down her family was approved for an apartment in Salt Lake. Her family is one of about 80 that was approved to receive keys to a new place Thursday.

"It's very emotional.  I never thought this was going to happen," said Plunkett.

Plunkett has been waiting 7 years for this moment when she was added to the state's public housing waiting list back in 2009.   During that time she and her three children barely scraped by.  At one point they even fell into homelessness.

"It been quite difficult never knowing if you'll have a roof over your head," said Plunkett.

That story isn't unique.  Officials say the average income of the 500 families in line is just $12,000/yr.  Many of the people live on the street.  The others are on the verge of being homeless.

Officials say they hope to move a total of 100 people into state public housing this month alone.  That's double the average.  The increase is credited to a new team of contractors tasked with renovating empty units that were in need of extensive repairs.

"It's 35 folks strong.  It has carpenters, plumbers, electricians.  Their sole goal is to descend on any vacant unit, make sure that it gets ready and do that within seven days," said Hakim Ouansafi, Executive Director, Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

Before the "extreme makeover" model was incorporated the average repair time was 267 days per unit.

Right now about 300 apartments remain under construction.  Officials say the next round of units should become available in November.

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