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Placing needy in housing costs millions

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The state has spent about $1 million this year to place Island welfare recipients in substandard housing — and they’re lucky to get that, officials say.

"It’s a deplorable situation," said William G. Among, director of the State Department of Social Services and chairman of the Hawaii Housing Authority Commission.

"With people in the middle-income group having a hard time getting housing, you can imagine how hard a time we’re having to get housing for people on welfare."

They have to battle the critical hosuing shortage with less than $100 a month in State assistance to pay the rent, he pointed out.

Conditions became so bac that the DSS instituted an "exception policy" to the $92 ceiling in rental payments for recipients, he said.

They have to hunt for a place to live for three months. Then if they can’t find anything within the standard allotment, an additional sum is provided.

The welfare agency asked the Legislature this year to raise the rental allowance 10 per cent.

But Among said, "Although we increase our rent, the housing market is so critical, it still won’t solve our problems.

The deparment has about 6,000 families and 5,000 individuals to accommodate.

Among said 30 per cent of the familes "are very fortunate" to be in low-income housing projects operated by the Hawaii Housing Authority.

The other 70 per cent are on their own.

"I don’t know where they can find homes for that money ($92)," said Jack T. Wakayama, chief of research and statistics at the DDS. "They are in a very precarious position."

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Every Sunday, “Back in the Day” looks at an article that ran on this date in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The items are verbatim, so don’t blame us today for yesteryear’s bad grammar.

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