Old homes in Ewa are attracting the attention of lawmakers

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The homes in a former sugar plantation village in Ewa are in bad need of repair.

And some City lawmakers are now trying to help the residents of this forgotten village.

It’s called Varona Village, and it’s actually owned by the City.

There are 50 homes, 15 of which are occupied by former plantation workers and their families.

It’s nothing fancy.

In fact, it’s a bit run down.

But for Lucena Tapoan, this is home.

“I’m proud of this place,” she said.

Her late husband Macario worked on the sugar plantation.

“You know, plantation before was only $2.02 per working.”

The Tapoans moved into this three bedroom, one bath house on Manakuke Street in 1982.

It’s part of the now City-owned Varona Village in Ewa.

Lucena has quite a deal.

When asked how much she pays for rent every month, she replied: “$57.”

But it has its share of problems, especially when it rains.

“The water come inside.  That’s why I got plenty buckets,” said Tapoan.

“Elected officials such as myself are appalled at the poor conditions of these living facilities,” said Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor.

Menor is helping to bring a voice to this voiceless community.

“The conditions are unacceptable.  There are roof leaks, unsafe conditions, light fixtures exposed to areas leaking,” said Menor.

He and Councilwoman Kymberly Pine introduced a resolution asking the Mayor to form a working group to address the short and long term housing needs for Varona Village.

“Unless these safety issues are resolved, I think we could have homes that are disasters that could happen at any time,” said Menor.

“I pray to God they’re going to help us fix the house,” said Tapoan.

In the 1990s, the City fixed up the homes in two other neighboring plantation villages — Renton and Tenney — and sold the houses and lots.

Varona was supposed to be next.

“Years ago there was a problem in which the housing administrator overseeing the development of Ewa Villages had committed fraud.  That was the Michael Kahapea situation.  I think after that things came to a halt,” said Menor.

Menor recently found out, he’s related to Lucena.

“She’s an aunty,” said Menor.

Lucena doesn’t think she’ll be able to afford to buy this home if the City decides to eventually sell it.

“Even though receiving pension, money not enough,” said Tapoan.

But she does know she wants to stay.

“Until the end of my life,” said Tapoan.

She’s now 81.

And this is where her heart is.

As for the status of the resolution, Menor says he thinks it’ll go before a Council committee next week.

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