Improvements under way at Kalihi Valley Homes

Published On: Apr 03 2013 10:11:00 PM HST

There could soon be changes to Kalihi Valley Homes. Millions to maintain the aging public housing complex has finally arrived.

Young kids at Kalihi Valley Homes have to practice in an old parking lot because there is nowhere inside to rehearse, play games or study.

"These kids used to come to the gym everyday and do homework, play games but then the gym was condemned," said Kalihi Valley Homes resident Sandra Menzsa.

Engineers determined the rusting roof and sagging structure were unsafe and closed the gym two years ago. Residents now worry about the safety of their kids without a proper place to play.

"These kids could get into gangs, drugs, mischief, fighting -- all of that is already happening," said Menzsa.

The decrepit gym is just one of many problems at the public housing complex.

"These communities have been ignored for many years. Some of the units haven't been refurbished in 30-40 years," said Hakim Ouansafi, the director of Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

Seven million dollars were recently released by the governor to fix up these units before they fall down.

"The money will take care of 120 units, depending on what we find when we rip off those roofs," added Ouansafi.
Along with the new roofs, units will also get new kitchens, flooring and bathrooms.
What they won't get are the additional treatments older remodels received; no pillars on porches, or gabled roofs.
That money will be spent on basic improvements to get broken down and vacant units repaired and rented.

Onesafi says it will take even more money to fix and fill all of the state's 6,000 public housing units - an estimated $500 million.

Those repairs will take a long time, but already residents at Kalihi Valley Homes are noticing positive changes in their neighborhood.

"You can tell the grounds look a lot better. We can now call this home," said resident Shaye Yamashiro.

Additional housing units will be refurbished over five phases, at a cost of nearly $30 million.

If the Kalihi Valley Homes gym can be repaired, Ouansafi said it will be. If it can't, a new one will have to be designed and then be built next year.


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