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Unanimous Vote to Keep Rent Affordable at Front Street Apartments

November 17, 2017, 7:51 AM HST (Updated November 17, 2017, 5:27 PM) · 16 Comments
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Front Street Apartments. PC: Google 2012.

A Maui County Council committee has passed a resolution supporting hundreds of Front Street Apartment tenants in their efforts to keep their rents affordable and avoid a jump in their rents that would effectively evict them.

The Council Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee Thursday passed the resolution 5-0 — enough votes to pass the measure when the full nine-member council meets on Dec. 1.

The resolution urges Gov. David Ige and the state Legislature to find a way to keep passed rents affordable at the apartments.

Under a IRS change in rules, the building owner says he’s exercising his authority to convert the low-income apartments to market-priced homes.

The rules allow the tenants to have low income rents, until Aug. 4, 2019 when the dwellings shift to market priced rentals.

Council members refrained from being too specific in the resolution, allowing state lawmakers on Maui to take the lead in trying to find a solution.

Front Street Apartment tenants co-chair Barbara Henny said she was pleased with the vote asking state lawmakers and officials for help.

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”I want them to seek some solution,” Henny said.  “Otherwise we will become homeless because many of us don’t have the ability to go elsewhere.”

Some Council members were displeased that the property owners were pulling out of a 50-year commitment to provide low-income housing, after receiving several million dollars in building and tax exemptions for the development.

Committee chair Stacy Crivello said according to county property tax officials, the Front Street Apartments had received a total of $2 million in tax exemptions since it was developed in the early 2000s.

Besides tenants, the resolution was supported by a number of Christian church groups, including a FACE or Faith Action For Community Equity, representing a number of churches on Maui.

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