Kalihi residents beg state to put new affordable homes elsewhere

Kalihi residents resist plans for another housing project in their area

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An effort to build more housing for Hawaii's struggling families gets a big “no thanks” from the neighbors. The state is hoping to partner with a developer to turn some office space into new units in Kalihi. They say it will help house the 28,000 people who are currently on the waiting list in Hawaii to get affordable homes. But community members said they've had enough.

"We don't want it! Stop it!" said Gayle Nakama at Monday night's neighborhood board meeting at Maemae Elementary School.

Board members said it was the biggest turnout at a neighborhood board meeting thus far.

Upset residents told a representative from Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) to take the housing development somewhere else.

"The state is trying to shove another housing project in Kalihi. We have the most housing projects in the state of Hawaii," Nakama said.

Nakama says she lives about a mile and a half away from the proposed development at the corner of North King Street and Lanakila Avenue. She's concerned about a number of things.

"Basically it's the crime, traffic, the infrastructure, sewers. We don't have infrastructure here," she said.

Ben Park, the HPHA representative, says right now the 13 buildings on property provide office space for nearly 200 people. The six-acre lot would be home to as many as 1,000 new units with office space on the bottom and affordable housing on top. HPHA is looking at out-of-the-box ideas, including turning old storage containers into homes.

"We want to make the best use of the existing land by creating additional public housing units," Park said.

Many residents at Monday's meeting feel like it's already done deal. But Park says the project could be stopped at anytime.

"We just want to make sure that this process involves the community because if we don't have positive community input, or if the project is changed with community input, that's all because of you," said Park.

HPHA was hoping to break ground by the end of next year, but Monday's meeting could change that.

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