Dozens of Kaka'ako Kupuna are worried they'll no longer be able to afford apartment rent
Rent will be going up in a few months and many residents say they've run out of options and are devastated.
KAKAAKO, Hawaii - Dozens of Kaka'ako kupuna are worried they'll no longer be able to afford their apartments.
Rent will be going up in a few months and many residents Island News spoke with Monday, say they've run out of options and are devastated.
"I can't sleep, I can't eat sometimes, I have this nervous break down where I shake a lot," Damiana Vierra, a 89 year old resident said.
Vierra isn't sure how she'll come up with an extra $412 for rent each month. She has lived there for 18 years.
"I understand the raise in rent. Why at 50 percent for the seniors who are on fixed incomes. If he had to raise the rent at least keep it at 30 or 40 percent, at least we could survive," Vierra said.
Several tenants say they're in the same boat.
The 75 unit building on Cooke Street used to be owned by the state but was recently acquired by private land owner, Mark Development.
Just last week, the new owners mailed tenants a lease agreement. It indicates Mark will subsidize the increase. But the letter also mentions rent could still go up 45 days later.
"We've actually talked about going to the mainland, we wouldn't have a clue where to go, wouldn't have a clue where to go... Both of us, our hearts are here. The tenants in the building, their hearts are here, their families are here, their livelihood, this is what we've known for many many years," Deborah Sebela said.
Mother Waldron park is right across the street from the senior complex. The park is clear now, but several weeks ago, dozens of homeless were set up. Kupuna fear they may be forced to do the same.
"I feel like making us homeless, that's what's going to happen...That's going to be the next step. Where can we go? Who's gonna take us in?" Vierra said.
Rent hikes and affordable housing are issues close to Ikaika Hussey's heart. The 39-year-old just announced his run for Honolulu City Council representing the Kaka'ako district.
"There might be better partners to work with instead of private land developers in terms of owning these buildings, I actually think we should find ways to have them be owned by the residents themselves in a nonprofit housing trust or a cooperative model," Hussey said.
Tenants plan to picket Tuesday to protest the hike and spent the afternoon making signs.
Local 5 union members are among those expected to support Kupuna during tomorrow's picket line.
The protest is set to start at 11:30 a.m., right in front of the apartment complex.
Mark Development CEO Craig Watase told Island News rent was not been raised for nearly 20 years and tenants were paying artificially low rents, until increases began three years ago.
He released a statement saying:
"Mark Development is committed to affordable housing...and encourages tenants to apply for subsidies including ones for rent, section 8 vouchers, food or medical assitance, which will help make up for the increase. Mark Development will host an informational meeting on Tuesday and is willing to work with tenants to get them assistance."