Sunday, October 24, 2010

Star Advertiser: Housing residents plead for hot water

From Star Advertiser:

Children, parents, grandmothers and grandfathers made a plea to state officials for hot water for Mayor Wright housing residents while holding signs in front of the state Capitol and Washington Place yesterday.

One sign read, "Hot Water for Our Babies Please!" while another said, "We are Human Beings."

About 70 percent of the 364 Mayor Wright units are without hot water, according to a survey taken in July by state Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Palama-Chinatown-Downtown).

Mayor Wright resident Inaria Reppaky, 42, who has a daughter, 19, and twins, age 7, said, "They (her children) want hot water. If cold water, they cannot take shower. When we no more hot water, I cook the water."

Ene Augafa, 63, a resident since 1985, said it has been too long since he and his family have been without hot water.

Augafa, who lives at the complex with his daughter and grandchildren, ages 12 and 14, said: "You feel guilty because they're not getting what they're supposed to get. They (housing management) looking at us as second-class citizens.

"They came out with the response, 'We're working on it but don't have the money,'" he said. "Now they say, 'We get 200-something thousand dollars. It's not enough.' They only talking but they're still doing nothing.

"We still suffering," he said.

Rhoads said he recently met with the executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, who said they have $250,000 to start bypassing the aging solar water system with an on-demand tankless gas water heating system, but the agency would have to go before the Legislature for an additional $600,000 to cover all 35 buildings.

A replacement solar water heating system and an overhaul of plumbing systems would be too costly, roughly $7 million, according to the housing authority's chief planner.

Rhoads said the 50-year-old complex's solar water heating system is so old that no parts are available.

Fetu Kolio, president of Mayor Wright's tenant association, said, "I've seen every single building flood, including mine, in the past six years," he said, due to bursting of the water system.

"The majority of tenants are hoping the thing will solve itself," Kolio added.

Many are afraid to report the problems for fear of retaliation from the housing management, while for others it's "a language barrier or senior citizens," Kolio said.

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