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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Chinatown Tenants: FACE does not Represent Us
By News Release @ 10:11 PM :: 5138 Views :: Honolulu County, Cost of Living

On May 29, 2013 at 6:30pm Chinatown Gateway Plaza Tenants are meeting to discuss the 12 recent city sale of affordable rental buildings and how 'gap' and working residents might be displaced.

Here is CGPTA President Steve Lohse's letter to elected officials:

Aloha e Carol, Ann, Ernie, Susie, and Karl,

On behalf of the Chinatown Gateway Plaza Tenant Association (CGPTA), I want to invite you into our CGP Home to attend this CGP Resident Meeting on Wednesday May 29 at 6:30p. See the attached flier. As the city convenes informational meetings regarding transitioning its 12 affordable housing properties to Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners (HAHP), the CGPTA asks that you please hear the following CGP resident concerns:

(1) Keeping the Process Honest

We are concerned that the city assured us repeatedly that “No residents will be displaced” and that there would be full public discussion when the Sale reached City Council. In the end, both these assurances proved untrue. The administration rushed us through a deal that eliminates our gap-income housing and will displace unknown numbers of workforce residents from their homes. The lack of communication and partnership throughout this process causes tremendous anxiety in our working families, as well as frustration for commercial and parking stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the FACE Housing Cmte recently reported that FACE will attend these Resident Meetings “to keep the process honest and be sure that the concerns of residents are heard and responded to appropriately” (written report to the FACE Steering Cmte on May 9, 2013). If by “honest,” we mean transparent and accountable with continuing communication and partnership with residents (Resolution 08-108, CD1), then the process notably lacks this, yes.

However, FACE is too closely allied with the administration to function as an impartial broker. In the end, FACE supported the administration’s deal rather than transparency, accountability, or saving the Homes of already housed residents. We are also concerned that FACE continued claiming to represent residents through its support group OH-NO as late as the October 2012 Budget Cmte meeting, four months after the state administratively dissolved OH-NO in June 2012.

In addition, so far as we know, FACE representation to this meeting includes no CGP residents. In fact, Dr. Susan Lebo, CGP resident and a founding member of our CGP Tenant Association, who also sits on the FACE Steering and Housing Cmtes, was not included in FACE plans to attend any Resident Meetings. We are concerned that none of the above qualifies FACE as an impartial broker listening responsively to resident concerns and keeping other parties honest.

Given the history of this process, FACE is probably correct that honesty requires close oversight, but we are concerned that only our publicly elected representatives qualify in this situation. If keeping the process “honest” remains a problem, then we call upon City Council and our duly elected representatives to step up to this role.

(2) Tenant Associations Forward

We are also concerned that the time has come to establish Resident-Owner-Manager relations without involving outside groups. CGP residents organized the CGP Tenant Association in 2006 under the provisions of the city CGP Management Services contract primarily to try to keep ourselves informed about Sale matters. Now, we are concerned to hear what the new owners envision for resident representation and participation in all properties going forward, and we need to hear this personally from the new owners without third-party intervention.

IN SUMMARY, CGP residents are concerned that the new owners take one step forward while former city owners and third parties take one step back, so new owners can respond directly to resident concerns about rent increases, displacements, and genuine Resident-Owner-Manager working relations from this day forward. If an impartial broker is required to keep the city administration or HAHP “honest,” then we are concerned that this must be our City Council and elected public officials and not any outside group, regardless of good intentions.

We look forward to welcoming you into our CGP Home on Wednesday May 29. Thank you!

Aloha no,

Steve Lohse

CGPTA

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