Creating truly affordable housing is one of Maui's lingering, complex issues. The island needs places where residents earning $10 to $15 an hour can live without spending almost all of their pay on rent.
Developed using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, the Front Street Apartments on Kenui Street is a genuine "affordable" complex.
The 143-unit property received a tax credit allocation in 1999, and it welcomed low-income tenants in 2001.
Residents there are scared, because they recently learned that the Front Street Apartments project will lose its affordable housing status as of August 2019.
"This means that the 200 to 300 residents of this complex will be losing their homes with virtually no place else to go. So, these folks will very possibly/probably become homeless/houseless and be living on the streets. These residents include families with children, seniors, disabled and more," noted Chi Pilialoha Guyer, vice president of the Committee for Residents at the Front Street Apartments.
He urges residents to write the Maui County Council and request that this complex remain as affordable housing.
"We would greatly appreciate your efforts to save these units; as if most of the residents are forced out onto the streets, taxes will increase, crime rates will most likely go up, family solidarity and safety will be compromised, social services institutions will be more overtaxed than they already are and more," Guyer wrote in a letter to the paper last week.
Developing long-term affordable rental housing units is one of the top objectives of the County of Maui's Housing Division.
The county should take steps to keep the Front Street Apartments affordable and not put hundreds of people out on the street.