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End of eviction protections puts formerly homeless Oahu families at risk again

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many of the 128 formerly homeless families living in Kahauki Village, an affordable housing complex near Keehi Lagoon, are behind in rent because of the pandemic.

And with the eviction moratorium ending this week, some are concerned about losing their homes.

“A lot of them have been working in industries that were impacted very severely by COVID,” said Jill Wright, community relations director at the Institute for Human Services. “We have a lot of families that were in the hospitality industry, the retail industry and restaurant industry.”

IHS is the primary service provider for the village. They have been working with both residents and the property manager to keep those who owe still in their homes.

Rent for a one-bedroom unit remains $725 per month, while a two-bedroom unit is $900 a month.

Residents are screened by IHS and all formerly lived in Oahu shelters.

Wright said case workers have been trying to educate those who fear eviction about rent relief programs and mediation, which is now required before a tenant can be evicted.

Other advocacy groups say they are also making the rounds at Kahauiki Village.

Alexandra Balgos, of the group Af3irm Hawaii, recently handed out pamphlets to residents.

“Type of resources that are available to them since the eviction moratorium is going to expire soon,” Balgos said, adding the process can be confusing to many people.

The State Commission for the Status of Women is asking the governor to extend the moratorium again. Agency Director Khara Jabola-Carolus is also requesting rent forgiveness for those at the village.

“We need more time to develop stronger solutions in order to avoid deepening the homelessness,” Jabola-Carolus wrote, in a letter to Governor David Ige.

The village is part of a public-private partnership development.

The organization in charge of the the property is a for profit group that leases the land for a fraction of it’s worth from the state.

The rent was set when the village opened in 2018 and set to cover the cost of maintenance, employees who work on the property, and utilities.

Wright said IHS is working with the property management company to avoid evicting anyone in the village who has applied for the assistance.

“As long as they’re making that good faith effort at Kahauiki village,” she said.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization estimates there are 25,000 families in Hawaii who are behind on the rent.

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