Waipahu residents struggle with landlord issues amid retaliation concerns
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fear of retaliation from landlords is just one of the problems causing tensions among low-income renters in Waipahu.
We visited one neighborhood where many people told us they do have issues with their landlords when it comes to just getting stuff fixed.
One man said he did not want to go on camera because he was afraid of getting ‘whacked in the head’ out of retaliation.
“That’s very real. They don’t want to say anything because they are afraid,” Barbara Tom of Waipahu Safe Haven Immigrant Resource Center said.
Tom says many complaints reach her confidentially.
“For example, we haven’t had hot water since 2021... Some of them are like; we don’t have a stove, a working stove, or a refrigerator.”
Within two minutes of walking down the street, we found people struggling with their landlords, but they were all too afraid to speak on camera.
Some residents were kicked out of their apartments during the pandemic, according to Barbara Tom.
Adding to the fear of retaliation, Tom says language barriers keep people quiet.
One Waipahu woman didn’t want to show her face.
“We asked our landlord to replace our refrigerator because our food gets spoiled, but she never replaced it. I think for two years now.”
The tension was evident at this poorly attended town hall, organized by the Hawaii Workers Center — an eye-opener for State Representative Rachele Lamosao.
“This is actually my first time hearing about it,” Rep. Lamosao said.
“What’s most troubling is that they feel that they can’t come out tonight. If you see the crowd, it’s not many, and so the fear from their landlords is very real.”
The solution is a work in progress.
These renters want more attention from leaders, more legal protections for tenants, and more compassion from landlords.
“Come up with some type of plan for the families that are struggling,” Tom says.
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