Elderly residents facing pests and threats of eviction at affordable housing complex in Ewa

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Elderly, low-income tenants in an urban housing project in Ewa Beach have said they face unfair charges and threats of eviction from apartment managers.

Residents of West Loch Elderly Village also said that when they reported pest infestations in their apartments, they were told to deal with it themselves.

“Are you telling me I have to pay for this exterminator?” For mice? I didn’t bring the mice. They come from outside, ”said Ruth Gardner, who said she trapped seven mice last month in her apartment.

Juliette Rawlins, who said she had an ant problem, added that the bugs entered her apartment through openings in her wall and electrical outlets – not because she forgot food.

“My kitchen was just infested with ants. They were all over my stove, my counters, my kitchen sink. They were in the cupboards, ”she said.

Some residents of West Loch Elderly Village said when they reported pest infestations recently they were told they were on their own.(nothing)

“I don’t see why tenants are likely to take care of the issues because we can’t afford it.”

The city owns the 150-apartment complex, but has hired a property management company to maintain and operate it.

He said the property manager is only responsible for exteriors and common areas and residents are responsible for their own units.

But state representative Bob McDermott disagreed.

“It should be included in property management. These people have fixed incomes. They are our kupuna. We have to take care of them, ”said McDermott, (R) Ewa Beach.

Gardner and Rawlins were among dozens of tenants who met with McDermott today to voice their complaints about the way the project is being handled.

They said the apartments had been managed for years by a non-profit company specializing in affordable rentals – with few problems. But several years ago the city hired a for-profit property manager, and that’s when the complaints started.

In addition to pest and maintenance issues, residents also complained about the management style of the new business.

Sybil Shrinski, who works on Social Security, said she had paid her rent for about 28 years by the middle of the month after her check arrived.

But in April, she said property managers told her she had to start paying on the first of the month.

“After that I get a letter (saying) that I am three months late in payment, January, February, March. And they wanted $ 138 or I would be kicked out, ”she said.

Another longtime resident, Lina Unutoa, added: “They write letters, almost pressuring everyone like you are going to be kicked out. If you don’t pay that much, you’re going to be kicked out, ”she said.

In a letter to McDermott, Scott Hayashi, director of the city’s land management department, said any late notice was based on state law that allows for the termination of overdue rents.

“This notice is based on Hawaii’s landlord-tenant code, HRS 521-68 (a), which provides that the landlord can demand payment of rent at any time,” Hayashi wrote.

“The Landlord may notify the Tenant in writing that unless payment is made within five business days of receipt of the Tenant’s notice, the Rental Agreement will be terminated. “

Many of these advisories were issued while the statewide moratorium on evictions was in place. When asked why the city’s moratorium does not apply to these tenants, city spokesperson Tim Sakahara said in an email:

“No one has been evicted, and the eviction mediation process has not started with the residents of the villages of West Loch,” Sakahara said.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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