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Hawaii News

Damage sparks call for staff

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is proposing to bolster services intended to cut down on damage to units by tenants.

The resident services section — which had been whittled to one person because of budget cuts — would consist of three people who respond to resident concerns and educate residents of basic housekeeping guidelines, said Denise Wise, agency executive director.

Wise said yesterday the agency deals with immigrant populations that sometimes need to be educated about how to care for the property. She cited an example of maintenance workers repairing damaged heating coils on stoves because tenants cooked food directly on them instead of using a pan.

She also said the agency should look at ending a policy that allows people who become jobless while living in public housing to have their rent waived for a long time.

Funding for the resident services section has already been secured, Wise said.

Her comments came during yesterday’s meeting of the authority’s board, which approved a $77 million budget for property improvements over the next two fiscal years.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority plans to ask for the funding from the 2011 legislative session: $35.7 million for fiscal 2012 and $41 million for fiscal 2013.

Improvements included in the budget focus on projects that will protect tenants and physical assets, such as fixing roofs before more internal damage is done.

The proposed projects address at least 17 properties, mostly on Oahu, and are a small portion of the $350 million in repairs proposed by the agency, which oversees more than 9,000 units statewide.

Officials identified the repairs according to the physical needs of the properties, management requests from the properties, tenant requests and accessibility assessments.

The proposal also includes $9.5 million to bring properties into compliance with federal disabilities requirements and $2 million for cameras and other security devices for properties around the state.


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