The state's Public Housing Authority is hiring. Which means dozens of jobs are available, and more people will be able to get housing they desperately need.
Cortez Adolpho, 70, is among the many interviewing for a position at a job fair in Kalihi Saturday morning. Adolpho stopped working two years ago. "I retired already, but the money I am saving is not enough. I have kids, and we are spending money I've been saving -- that is why I have to find a job," said Adolpho.
A new baby, and the need to move up in the workplace, brought Kale Kupau-Alcain to the job fair. "The job market is really bad. I'd like a better job. Where I've been working for a while -- I haven't got a raise," said Kupau-Alcain.
The job fair will not only help fill 50 full-time positions, it will also cut down on the backlog for people waiting for the state's public housing.
"The need is huge, the workload is big, so this is just one step to get these units to the clients as quickly as possible," said Public Housing Director Hakim Ouansafi.
There are nearly 500 public housing units in need of repairs. In the past, the state would average over nine months to turn around the units for rentals. But a recently signed bill allows the department to speed up the hiring of maintenance and trade workers, painters, plumbers and electricians, by bypassing the normal civil service process.
The change could reduce the turnaround time to just a few weeks. A shorter turnaround would not only get more people into homes, it would also get money for the state because federal funding is based on occupancy.
"By bringing in all the units, we should be getting $4 million more in federal assistance," said Ouansafi.
Job fairs were also held on Maui and Kauai. The first batch of new hires are expected to start work by the end of July.
Most of the repairs and maintenance the new workers will do is expected to be completed by next summer. That is when 180 vacant units will be returned to the rental pool.