Gov wants homeless in public housing
The plan hurts those who applied to live at Puahala, critics say
Gov. Linda Lingle is asking the state's public housing authority to stick with its decision to move 13 Oahu homeless families into a public housing complex in Kalihi.
Critics say the homeless are unfairly cutting ahead of people who have been waiting for public housing. They accuse state officials of ignoring their concerns and of dumping more low-income residents in their neighborhood.
"There seems to be a rush to house these people in public housing at the expense of public housing applicants," local resident Francis Nishimura told the housing authority's board of directors yesterday.
Kaulana Park, state homeless solutions coordinator, has said the families expected to move into the Puahala Homes complex include people who have been on the public housing waiting list. The accommodations are only meant to be temporary, he has said.
The governor says the objections raised by opponents are not sufficient to overturn the housing authority's decision.
She says the families that would move into the units are stable, with most having both a mother and father and at least one working adult.
"I think it's the mission of the state to help families like these," she said. "This is about human progress. It's about increasing the quality of life for people here in our state."
At yesterday's board of directors meeting, Steven Obara, 50, said homeless families need safe transitional housing like the units at Puahala Homes.
"Shelters and parks are not the right place for families with kids," said Obara, who used to be homeless.
In January, state lawmakers sent a letter to the chairman of the housing authority's board asking him to rescind its decision to allow Puahala Homes to serve as transitional housing for the homeless.
"Having transitional housing with a different set of conditions, rules and challenges placed in public housing is counterproductive to ongoing efforts to improve public housing operations and living conditions," the letter read.
The nine signatories included state Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Human Services and Public Housing, and state Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, chairwoman of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing.
Lingle also praised the use of prison inmates to refurbish the units for homeless families at Puahala as "innovative."
Local residents said they were not informed about that decision.
The board is expected to make a decision about housing the homeless at Puahala at a later date.