City halts affordable housing project in Hauula following resident concerns

Updated: Oct. 10, 2020 at 12:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An affordable housing program in Hauula is on hold after residents complained about a lack of transparency from the city.

The city Department of Community Services purchased a property with three homes on Homestead Road in Hauula for nearly $3 million.

Pamela Witty-Oakland, director of the city and County Department of Community Services, said the property was intended to serve as affordable housing for struggling people and families within the Hauula community and Ko’olauloa Region.

“We actually worked with a non-profit that has employees that are from this community,” said Witty Oakland. “So, it was through that venue that we thought we had a plan that was going to be workable and support in the community.”

Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi of District 2 said she supported the concept of purchasing the property.

“So the miss-step here was that we didn’t have community consultation before deciding how to use this space,” said Tsuneyoshi.

Tsuneyoshi said some residents interpreted plans for the property as a halfway house.

“After finding out that there was a proposed action at this site to house different types of individuals in need of services here at this property loosely referred to as a halfway house,” said Tsuneyoshi.

“But as we found out it wasn’t going to be strictly in terms of a halfway house.” But those living nearby said the city’s lack of transparency caused them to fear the worst.”

Zeni Kapahulehua Iese, of Hauula, said the project was too close to Hauula Elementary School. "A lot of our ohana around here have a lot of children that walk,” he asid.

After hearing residents' concerns, the city is working to terminate the existing contract.

“I’m a lot more confident that now the people of Hau’ula will be included in this project which it should have been from the very beginning,” said Iese.

Witty-Oakland said they will hear the needs of the community so they can design a request for proposals that will align with their support.

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