Elderly residents at an affordable housing complex in Waimanalo are seeing rent increases of up to $400 that some are calling unfair.
The increases are being blamed on federal changes to rent formulas for Kulanakauhale Maluhia O Na Kupuna. Tenants there must meet income requirements, be of Native Hawaiian decent, and be 55 years or older.
There are 85 units on property, and property management company Locations said all but one unit is occupied.
Locations vice President Ian Bigelow said rent will stay the same for nine tenants. Most residents saw a $60 to $70 a month increase, however, and three will pay $400 more a month.
Joe Tassill, who's well known in the community, said the rent increases aren't right.
"With a $400 increase ... how do you justify that? On a fixed income? At such a late day in your life?" Tassill said.
Bigelow said the company didn't have a choice in the matter because of the new federal income-based guidelines.
"The project hasn't been able to float its own expenses," Bigelow said. "It's been going negative for years now. What this was, was actually bringing it up to what the HUD fair market guidelines are."
He added, "A lot of projects will continue to do annual increases to stay at that amount. This is basically a catch up, of I'd say over eight years, of subsidies amounts that weren't increased."
Tassill, who has lived in the complex for about six years, said many kupuna are afraid to speak publicly about the rent increases out of fear of retaliation or eviction. He said some even fear they might have to move out because they can no longer afford to pay rent.
"Ever since we got here, you'd be surprised, how many kupuna had passed on," he said. "This is it. This is last stop and it was not meant to be a place where you would have animosity and conflict. It's a place where you could enjoy our last days of your life."
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands owns the property. DHHL officials weren't available for comment because of the state holiday.