Kalihi Valley Homes residents and state officials say they will step up enforcement of existing rules to keep the public housing complex safe after the Hawaii Public Housing Authority lifted a four-month curfew Wednesday.
"The curfew really opened our eyes," said Sa Aiolupotea, secretary of the Kalihi Valley Homes tenants association. "Now (the residents) know how safe it can be."
The state housing agency announced it was ending the curfew, which began on April 1, at a meeting with residents Wednesday night. The curfew required residents to stay in their homes and barred guests from entering the property between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Although state law prohibits the housing authority from extending the curfew past 120 days, security officials said they would increase enforcement efforts. Regulations — written into lease agreements but rarely enforced before the curfew — prevent visitors from staying past midnight without permission from housing management and impose quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"Me and my guys will continue doing what we’re doing," said security supervisor Tuuese Taliloa. "They lifted the curfew but we’ll enforce quiet time."
The housing authority imposed the curfew after a string of violent incidents raised concerns over the residents’ safety. In March a 19-year-old tenant was shot in the face at the housing complex within weeks of a stabbing and two assaults.
"There was a succession of violent acts," said housing authority Executive Director Denise Wise. "I believed that we needed (the curfew) to make sure that the tenants were secure and the property was safe."
Four Kalihi Valley Homes guards secured the area during curfew hours with the assistance of Honolulu police, who posted patrol cars at the property’s two entrances for the first couple of weeks. The tenants association also assisted with patrols.
"The reason that people felt secure is not because of the security we put in place, but it was policing on their part," Wise said. "It takes a community working together to make the environment safe."
During the curfew, Wise said, the number of noise complaints and other citations dropped nearly to zero.
Police officials in Kalihi said they noticed a sharp decline in calls out to the housing complex.
"During the period that the curfew was in place, we had very few calls for police services in the community," said Maj. William Chur of the Kalihi substation. "It was just a pretty quiet time for that community."
At the Wednesday night meeting, the housing authority invited tenants to give feedback on the curfew and provided Chuukese, Samoan and Laotian translators.
Moana Hampton, treasurer of the tenants association, said many of the residents who attended the meeting were happy with the results of the curfew.
"Most of the people that were there did not want to lift the curfew," Moana said. "All these years that I’ve lived here, I have never lived as well as I did during the curfew."
Hampton, who has lived in the complex since 1985, said she was happy that housing management is going to step up enforcement of the rules set down in the rental agreements. She said the tenants association has asked community groups — many of which have been trained by the Honolulu Police Department to police the property — to help guards secure the complex.
"We should protect our community," she said. "I don’t think it’s right for me to be afraid to live within my own unit."