Friday, May 18, 2001

Kukui Gardens
residents escape
increase in rent

HUD rejects proposed
rent increase, to the relief
of the occupants

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Residents of Kukui Gardens have received notice that federal housing officials rejected a management-proposed rent increase of 37 percent.

Peggy Mitsukawa, a 64-year-old resident, was relieved. "It was too much too soon," she said.

Management proposed the rent increase for residents who live in the low- to moderate-income apartment complex on Liliha Street in Kapalama to cover electrical upgrade expenses.

Rent for a three-bedroom, one-bath apartment, would have been increased to $823 from $601.

The increase was to have gone into effect in July.

Carol Anzai, president of the Kukui Gardens Guild, was informed by an official from federal Housing and Urban Development that the proposal was rejected.

HUD officials could not be reached for comment.

Anzai informed residents about the decision made by Housing and Urban Development. The notification came at a meeting last night.

"It was too much of an increase, especially for those who live on a fixed income," said Anzai.

She said senior citizens who live at the 822-unit Kukui Gardens are unable to pay such an increase due to other financial commitments. "Elderly residents need to pay for medication. They can't afford to pay more."

Residents have been petitioning their legislators. They plan to continue the effort to keep the rent increase at a reasonable rate.

Kim Tam, a 26-year resident of Kukui Gardens, said, "We can't afford to pay over $1,000 a month."

Currently, Tam pays $781 a month for a three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath apartment plus two parking stalls.

The rent increase was too much, said Tam, a seamstress.

James Ku, 69, said, "The Social Security is not enough to pay the rent." Ku said a number of residents who live at Kukui Gardens work in hotels and restaurants. "Everybody cannot pay this money," said Ku, a housekeeper at the Queen's Medical Center.

Lionel Borges said: "I personally feel that the tenants shouldn't be held responsible for any upgrade. It should be the landlords or the corporation."

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