Mayor Wright Homes: Public Housing Hell

Gang activity, rat infestations, deteriorating walls and ceilings, and, until this June, no hot, running water. For the approximately 1,100 tenants of Mayor Wright Homes, this is life. Years of neglect forced residents to sue the state. Lawyers want to settle the case this year to finally reverse these deplorable conditions. But for these residents, positive change has been years in the making.


Published:

(page 4 of 6)


The Wong household is always bustling with Wong’s foster children and her grandchildren. Her adult children are now her caretakers.

Mayor Wright Homes used to be part of HPD’s Weed and Seed program, but the department ended the complex’s program in 2003. Since then, gang presence—including the Bloods—has increased. It’s common to see adults and teenagers, mostly men, drinking and loitering outside the buildings at night and dealing and/or doing drugs. But they don’t stop there: Gangs vandalize homes and cars, shattering windows with rocks, bats and BB guns. Residents are assaulted with these same weapons or punched and kicked. Assailants are rarely arrested.

“We’ve had assaults on tenants and it’s so ridiculous, because no one seems to care from the Public Housing Authority,” says Kolio. “These assaults are by people that don’t reside there, so you can’t evict nobody.” Kolio himself has restraining orders on a handful of men. He’s been threatened and has had his windows smashed. “It was early morning, maybe 2 a.m., I’m dead asleep, all I hear is rocks flying through, my wife is screaming, she’s terrified. I came outside, there’s no suspects, they’re long gone.”

Kolio thinks he was targeted because he’s part of the citizen’s patrol and is vigilant in calling the cops, unlike some other residents, who are afraid. Gangs also target many of their victims because of their ethnicity, or as retaliation. Virtually every adult resident has experienced vandalism and some form of assault, or has witnessed it. A tenant, who didn’t want to be named, said a gang member broke his brother’s jaw, and, in the past two months, he’s had his own windows smashed twice. Wong, too, says she sees gangs loitering outside on a nightly basis.

“Security guards are always on the property, because they’re getting paid with taxpayer dollars, but, if you ask me, what’s the results? Nothing. The gangs continue to control the evenings, the property itself,” says Kolio.

During the day, only one HPHA-contracted guard is on duty at Mayor Wright, and he or she stays at the front-entrance guard shack, essentially giving criminals free reign everywhere else. In two shifts, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., two guards roam the property, but aren’t much of a deterrent. Another Mayor Wright resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, says gang members terrorize him as he’s walking to his building after his graveyard shift.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine November 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Trending

 

9 Greatest Honolulu Homes

Great Homes

Stunning, historic, extraordinary.

 

Can the Mainland Do Poke Right? Do We Want Them To?​

Poke

Martha Cheng, author of The Poke Cookbook and former line, talks about how a New York City publisher decided Hawai‘i’s favorite pūpū was for everybody.

 

50 Essential Hawai‘i Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime

Books

The most iconic, trenchant and irresistible island books, as voted by a panel of literary community luminaries.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Local Fruit in Hawai‘i

Fruit

Fruits are part of our history and culture, a way for us to feel connected to our community.

 

 

A Local’s Guide to Buying Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Sunscreen

Five Hawai‘i brands have created reef-safe sunscreens that are safe for your ʻohana and the ocean. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags