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Hawaii Public Housing waiving minimum rents, offering face masks and hand sanitizer during coronavirus pandemic

  • COURTESY HAWAII PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY AND NATIONAL GUARD
                                Public housing authority staff have been working alongside the National Guard at outreach events.

    COURTESY HAWAII PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY AND NATIONAL GUARD

    Public housing authority staff have been working alongside the National Guard at outreach events.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority has been handing out thousands of masks, along with hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies at COVID-19 outreach events alongside the National Guard, state officials said.

During these unprecedented times, the agency, which administers about 6,200 federal and state low-income public housing units on five islands, has also waived all minimum rents and late fees due to COVID-19-related income loss, and deployed free WiFi at 10 sites to encourage at-home learning.

It has also launched a website — hphaishereforyou.org — to provide approximately 40,000 public housing residents with important updates and resources on the new coronavirus.

Outreach and prevention efforts are important because several cases have cropped up in public housing.

On May 13, the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported at Kalihi Valley Homes in a unit among five members of the same family. On May 20, a second round of confirmed cases was reported at the complex in a unit with a family of three, according to the website.

The Agency’s staff worked with the state Health Department, and went door to door to inform residents of the positive cases, distribute additional face coverings, and information flyers.

Affected families were provided with meals and cleaning supplies so they could focus on recovery.

Testing was also provided for anyone with flu-like symptoms.

“None of these activities could be carried out without the dedicated support of all our staff who remained hard at work since the start of this pandemic, including property managers, office and maintenance staff, and many others,” said HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi in a news release. “The HPHA continues to step up its efforts to keep our at-risk seniors and families as safe as possible during these trying times.”

An HPHA hotline is also available if any residents or their family members test positive for COVID-19 at 783-3770.

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