‘It’s personal’: Waiahole Valley families appeal to state board amid rent increase talks
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of farmers and families who have been in Waiahole Valley for decades spoke before a state housing board Thursday to ask for a fair ent agreement.
“How can you all agree raising Waiahole rents to almost market rents, when all of us are living literally in old district disrepair, plantation style homes, that we took out our inheritance our money to repair it?” said Toni Cano of Waiahole Valley during the the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation Board Meeting on Thursday morning.
The state said maintaining the valley’s potable water system, roads and common areas costs taxpayers about $1.2 million a year and rent collected by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation isn’t enough cover those services on its own.
Back in April, several farmers reached an agreement with the state allowing them to pay below market rents the next 15 years.
“This group of farmers that they worked out a deal with is that a 3.0 increase so they’re asking a lot of the residents to paying more than a 3.0 increase, and we’re saying that’s not consistent,” said Dennis King, attorney for the Waiahole-Waikane Community Association.
“It’s personal to me, we deserve all residents to be treated just like farmers,” said Cano. “So, please don’t do that to us.”
About 50 years ago, Patsy Pilanca protested evictions in Waiahole Valley with her husband front and center. On Thursday, she and dozens of others shared how rent increases would impact kupuna living on social security.
She fears losing the home her late husband built. “He just passed away in December so right now, it’s still fresh,” said Pilanca. “So, it’s very hard to say I’m going to tear down the house.”
“You know, it’s very to the heart because he built it.”
Pilanca left the board meeting feeling hopeful.
“I feeling really good because when I looked at the board, the HHFDC board looked like they were surprised and a lot of the stuff that everybody was talking about when we did our speeches,” she said.
Twelve agreements have already been made ranging from $330 to $795 a month depending on lot size.
The board took no action on Thursday.
If an agreement isn’t reached by August 1, the matter must be submitted for mediation and if that’s unsuccessful it must be settled through arbitration.
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