Mystery leak forces residents out of their apartments

Some residents living in public housing in Palolo have been spending the past few days packing their things and moving out.

Their units were flooded with what is possibly sewer water earlier this week.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is doing more than is required of them by law to try to accommodate the displaced residents.  But for one of the residents, it still wasn’t enough.

We first met Tanya Wright on Tuesday afternoon.

She lives at Palolo Valley Homes with her four children.

Just hours earlier, her unit and the five other units in building 10 were flooded.

“Oh my God, I can’t even talk. My stomach is so sore, I almost threw up. The smell is so stink!  You know,” Wright said.

On Wednesday, plumbers and the maintenance crew determined, there is a crack in the sewer pipe under building 10.

But it also appeared there may be a crack in the clean water pipe as well.

“What I instructed them is let’s just assume it’s not clean water, let’s assume it’s not safe for our children,” said Hakim Ousansafi, Hawaii State Public Housing Authority Executive Director.

And so the state deemed the units in building 10 unlivable, and shut off the water to the building.

“We authorized the private management company to offer them a hotel or compensation to stay anywhere they want and they all chose the compensation,” Ousansafi said.

The compensation amounted to $200 per family per night for up to four nights.

Plus, the state found the families units to move into at other public housing properties either in Kalihi or Halawa, plus …

“…we paid for their bus passes for January and February and paid for their moving expenses, gave them cash and provided boxes,” Ouansafi said.

Most of the families in building 10 agreed to move, but Wright still wasn’t happy.

She says she was told she would be moved to Halawa, but she told them she doesn’t want to move there, and wanted to see a list of other available units.

She currently lives in public housing for free.

“We definitely don’t want to stay in this condition, and it is management’s obligation to do that for us as tenants,” Wright said.

Tonight, she took it up with the owner of Realty Laua, the private company the state pays to manage Palolo Valley Homes.

“Did I not ask for someplace that was close?” Wright asked.

“Well yes, everybody did. But the fact of the matter is the state’s inventory doesn’t allow for you to move somewhere close,” said Robert Faleafine, Realty Laua Owner.

In the end, Wright agreed to either move to public housing in Kalihi, or take a Section 8 voucher.

As for building 10, the state thinks it may be up to a year before people can live there once again.

And that’s because they have to crack open some of the walls and floors to check out all the pipes to see which one caused all the flooding.

Those buildings and pipes are at least 50 years old.

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