Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mayor Wright residents plan to protest lack of hot water

From KHON:

Residents at a State housing project in Kalihi say they've been running out of hot water for years.

And they're planning to take their concerns to the streets this week.

On the flip side, State officials say they're working to replace the aging water heating systems.

Many people take for granted having hot water in their home.

But for many tenants at Mayor Wright Housing in Kalihi, hot water is a luxury that they don't always have.

"I play McKinley football and sometimes in the season I come home expecting a hot shower, to relax, relax my muscles, but when I step inside, half the time it's mostly cold water," said Dustin Siaosi, Mayor Wright resident.

On Friday, Mayor Wright residents are planning to peacefully picket in front of Washington Place and the State Capitol, hoping to draw attention to their situation, which has been ongoing for years.

"Even our senior citizens, they complain about it a lot," said Marleen Lafaele, Mayor Wright resident.

Hawaii Public Housing Authority Executive Director Denise Wise, who's been on the job for only six months, says they're moving as quickly as they can with the resources they have.

"Is there a plan? Yes. Did it happen as quick as I would like it to? No. Should people always be without hot water? No, I don't believe they should," said Wise.

The problem has to do with these solar water heating systems.

There are 80 hot water tanks for the 35 buildings in the complex.

In 2002, the State replaced 50 of the tanks.

But over the past several years, the remaining 30 tanks started failing.

"What we did was a bypass. So what that meant, so if a building had been serviced by two it was now being serviced by one system," said Wise.

Each tank can hold between 300 to 900 gallons of water.

"What further exacerbated the problem, is we're already on a reduced capacity unfortunately we do have people who are in the units not on the lease," said Wise.

Which results in many of the tenants running out of hot water faster than they should.

Wise says for now, the plan is to replace the aging tanks with tankless heaters that use gas instead of solar.

"We've replaced about five systems to date. It costs about $14,000 to replace a system," said Wise.

It can't come soon enough for residents who've had to night after night, take a shower in cold water.

Wise says right now they only have about $250,000 for the new systems.

And they plan to ask the legislature for $600,000 in additional funding to replace all of the water heating systems at Mayor Wright.

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