Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Press on Gov. Abercrombie's trip to Mayor Wright

Abercrombie visits Mayor Wright, promises hot water, KGMB

By Brooks Baehr

The water woes will soon be a thing of the past at Mayor Wright Housing.

So says Governor Neil Abercrombie. He visited the state owned housing complex Monday and after meeting with tenants told reporters the lack of hot water in some apartments will be addressed "immediately."

"They have confidence, and should have confidence, that we are going to deal with it immediately. We're going to take care of what needs to be done where the hot water is concerned," Abercrombie said.

Tenants walked the property with the governor pointing out problems that need to be addressed. The hot water, though, is their top priority. Some residents have been without consistent hot water for seven years. Others have hot water only on days when the sun shines bright enough to heat solar water systems, but in the morning the water is always cold.

Abercrombie's spokesperson says a temporary fix is already in the works. Donalyn Dela Cruz said bids are being solicited right now for a contractor who will have until July 5 to get reliable hot water into every apartment. And, Dela Cruz said, the governor's budget request to the legislature includes a $2.5 million dollar request to pay for a permanent fix.

Gov. Abercrombie To Hear Hot Water Woes, KITV

The state’s Mayor Wright Housing project has been plagued with a malfunctioning hot water system for years.

The aging system supplies water to some 364 units in the low income housing complex but chronic breakdowns mean families have inconsistent hot water.

“If you talk about consistency, there is no warm or hot water in the morning, or no warm or hot water in the evening,” said resident Fetu Kolio.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Tuesday met with residents over their frustration that it has taken so long to repair.

“They have confidence and should have confidence that we will deal with it immediately. We are going to take care of what needs to be done where hot water is concerned, said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“I feel confident after today’s discussion that they have a governor that is working with them,” Abercrombie said.

Families have been pressuring the state for years, but the budget squeeze has delayed a permanent fix.

A recent survey by area lawmakers found that about 70 percent of the units lacked hot water.

The state has begun installing tankless hot water in some of the units, but it could cost millions more to repair the entire system, officials said.

“We need to address these long term maintenance issues because that’s what cropping up now,” said Hawaii Public Housing Authority executive director Denise Wise.

Wise said there is about $8 million in the administration budget for the project. The question is whether lawmakers will fund the request.

Abercrombie oversees fix to Mayor Wright's hot water problem, KHON

Public housing resident hoping to fix a years-long hot-water problem got the attention of the governor today.

The governor visited Mayor Wright homes where an interim fix is already underway for a problem they say started seven years ago.

These 300 gallon solar hot water tanks have not been keeping pace with usage at Mayor Wright homes, to the point that hot water is in rare supply, with availability being intermittent and the temperature going to tepid or even cold quickly during high-use times or cloudy days.

The community has been increasingly vocal with lawmakers about this and other issues, and invited the governor to see for himself, which he did today."It boils down to health and safety, sanitation, condition of living yeah?” said Fetu Kolio, president of the tenant association."

We are taking some funds from some projects, we're doing some shifting, so that this is on the top of the list,” said Denise Wise of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

A nearly $800,000 project already underway has installed gas-fired tank-less backup water heaters to about 25 percent of units so far.

Meanwhile the solar system is being evaluated for repair versus replacement. At the capitol today, a measure passed to establish minimum rent for public housing and allow the housing authority to assess a community facility maintenance fee.


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