Pod Squad: Looking Behind the ‘Facade’ at Vacant Public Housing

While some state-run apartment complexes look good from the front, there may be vacant units in back awaiting major maintenance work.
By April Estrellon /

There are 6,195 public housing units in Hawaii, and right now more than 400 of them sit empty even as the state’s homelessness crisis worsens.

Civil Beat reporter Anita Hofschneider and photographer Cory Lum join host Chad Blair on the latest installment of the Pod Squad to talk about what they saw when they visited the venues of some of those vacant units.

In some cases, said Hofschneider, the apartment complexes looked “beautiful” from the front, their units sporting awnings and lanais. “You’d never guess driving by that there are a bunch of empty units in the back.”

The fronts, Lum said, are like a “facade,” hiding “derelict structures, some with broken windows.”

Hofschneider and Lum have produced two recent reports on the state of Hawaii’s pubic housing, one looking at the vacancies in general and another targeting specific locations where units await work that is often delayed by a lack of funding and a slow building permit process.

Hit the play button to hear the discussion or subscribe to the Civil Beat Pod Squad on iTunes and Stitcher.

This week’s podcast features, from left, photographer Cory Lum, reporter Anita Hofschneider and host Chad Blair.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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Civil Beat Podcasts

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