Wednesday, December 11, 2013

City increases rent for low income housing

Lorraine Soriano has lived at Kulana Nani for 35 years.

She's currently paying $930 a month for the three-bedroom apartment she shares with her daughter and two grandchildren, which includes electricity and water.

Starting in February, her rent will jump another $600 a month.

"I cannot afford that. I live on a fixed income. Two months ago, I got breast cancer, so I go to chemo and I have to pay for that, too," Soriano said.

Same goes for Kulana Nani resident Dorothea Pali. She says dozens of families living in the complex have been complaining about the rent hike and they can't understand why it's so drastic.
"What we're letting them know, the city, we cannot even afford the $600 to $700 increase at one time. We know rent's gotta be raised. Everything goes up in Hawaii," Pale said.

The city says for years residents have been paying lower than what the standards are for affordable housing. And the federal government has been pitching in. But the city paid the mortgage on the building earlier this year, so it's charging residents what it should, 30 percent of their income.
"I think the struggle that some of these residents are having is that they have not paid the 30 percent of household income, which is a HUD standard. That's been in place since 1937, I believe," Department of Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland said.

The city says it is working with the residents to provide some help, whether it's from the federal government or through the city's rental assistance programs.

"It sounds like there would still be a drastic rise in their rent come February. I mean a few hundred dollars," KHON2 said.

"Yes, for some there would be a few hundred dollars increase," Witty-Oakland said.

The city says it will get together with residents next week to see what other options it can offer to help residents pay for the increase.

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