Fight to Save More Than 1200 Affordable Homes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fight to Save More Than 1200 Affordable Homes

Ellan Taylor Ellan Taylor
Ann Kobayashi Ann Kobayashi
Anthony Marlin Anthony Marlin

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More than 1200 people living in affordable housing units all over Oahu will soon learn whether they'll lose their homes. Their fate is hanging on a Honolulu City Council vote, just five days away.

On the table is a resolution aimed at keeping them in their homes. 12 affordable housing projects scattered throughout Oahu are on the line. One of them is the Marin Tower, located in Chinatown off of Nimitz. Tenants say the resolution is critical, saying the affordable housing shortage has hit a crisis stage.

1,257 city-owned affordable rentals are up for sale. Ever since Mayor Mufi Hanneman announced plans to put them on the market, tenants have been on edge.

"Panic. Are we going to be on the beach? And even though I work hard everyday, like you and every one else, we can just barely afford our rents here. Hawaii's getting worse all the time. They just can't sell any more of these homes," said Ellan Taylor, a tenant at Marin Tower.

Taylor is the President of Ohana Housing Network Oahu, or Oh-No. Tenants living in the affordable housing projects formed the group. They've been fighting the last two years to preserve their low-cost of living.

"Look around us, look at how many homeless there are. There are so many people in all these buildings that are on fixed incomes, Section 8, low-income like myself and I'm fighting to save our homes," said Taylor.

Their fight triggered a city resolution. If it passes, a prospective developer must keep the buildings affordable. It also ensures that the city will favor whoever has ties to Hawaii when it comes to leasing the buildings.

"{It's to favor those who} want to help the low-income people with affordable housing because there's such a shortage," said Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi.

"Nowadays, you can't even put an application in most places because they have a thousand applicants," said Anthony Marlin, a tenant at Chinatown Manor.

Without enough affordable rentals to meet that demand, Oh-No says the state's homeless problem will worsen.

The Honolulu City Council will vote on the affordable housing resolution next Tuesday.

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