Public housing crusader being evicted

Fetu Kolio guilty of theft

 UPDATED 8:44 PM HST Aug 21, 2012
Fetu Kolio
HONOLULU -

A resident of Mayor Wright Homes, who fought to make sure everyone had hot water at the public housing project, is now in hot water himself.  Fetu Kolio is being evicted.

Children at Mayor Wright Homes now have to go without some of the little things that used to make life a little more pleasant at the public housing complex.

"We used to have Valentine dances, and Christmas shows but those haven't been happening. There have been no gift bags for seniors, none of that going on," said Gloria Castro, with the Mayor Wright Tenant Association.

In the past, when some residents of Mayor Wright were left without they turned to Kolio.

Last year he took Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie on a tour to show how bad it was without enough hot water.

But that is not all Kolio took at the public housing complex.

In May, he admitted to stealing about $1,400 from the Mayor Wright Tenant Association. Money that normally goes to fund dances for the kids, an effort to keep them out of trouble. Some of the funds are also spent on senior activities.

Part of his guilty plea, included a promise to pay back the stolen funds. But Castro said there have been no signs of that much-needed money, leaving some residents feeling betrayed.

"To this day, Kolio has not opened up and said anything to this community. He hasn't even apologized, so the people are just angry," said Castro.

The theft has cost Kolio more than just respect in the public housing community, his conviction also cost him a place to live. He is no longer allowed to live in public housing.

But the lawsuit Kolio filed over the lack of hot water and other alleged violations will continue.

Even though many of the problems brought up in the lawsuit have been fixed, according to the head of the housing authority.

"It makes me question the motives of anyone who steals money, pleads guilty and then sues the taxpayers for additional money, supposedly for the betterment of the community he lived in," said Hakim Ouansafi, the Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

Ouansafi is concerned money that would have been spent on repair and maintenance at Mayor Wright Homes will now instead be used for attorney's fees from the lawsuit.

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