Hundreds of public housing units sit empty — and in need of majo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hundreds of public housing units sit empty — and in need of major repairs

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is facing a 10-year, $815 million repair and maintenance backlog.

There are 246 apartments in its inventory that need major construction -- work that requires outside experts.

"Because of the age of our inventory, more than 50 years old, some of those repairs become very involved and very expensive to be able to do," HPHA executive director Hakim Ouansafi said.

He said complete remodels and roofing jobs take two years or longer because of the bidding process. That's well beyond the seven-day turnaround for routine repairs. Meantime, the apartments sit empty.

"The units that require extensive amount of repair and hiring a contractor, that is booked based on the appropriations that we get," Ouansafi said.

This year, the Housing Authority asked lawmakers for about $60 million but got only $20 million, forcing the agency to reshuffle projects and hold off on some major repairs.

State Rep. Tom Brower chairs the House Housing committee. He thinks lawmakers might be more generous in the future if the Housing Authority is clearer about its needs.

"I think it would help if they gave more specifics and even some site tours. The more the legislators can see hands on what's happening, I think more likely the funding would come," Brower said.

With 25,000 families on his waiting list for low-income housing, Ouansafi also worries about the potential for federal funding cuts. So he's thankful for every dollar he gets from the state.

"We'll go ahead and re-prioritize and expend that money and come next year to ask for more," he said.

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