utility allowances

Tenants in public housing pay 30% of their income for rent. This rate ensures that tenants' rent is within their ability to pay. Tenants need the remaining portions of their rent to cover other necessities, such as healthcare, food, and taxes.

Part of the public housing subsidy, under the federal Public Housing Act, includes a fair allowance for utilities. In 2003, lawyers discovered that the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and certain housing projects were not providing a fair allowance to their tenants, forcing to choose between paying for utilities or other necessities. These policies caused many public housing tenants to pay more than their legal share for housing and, in some cases, caused loss of housing.

Hawai‘i Appleseed has made it a priority to ensure that public housing tenants received their fair share in utility allowances. In furtherance of that goal, Hawai‘i Appleseed has filed, when necessary, class action law suits against the local public housing authority seeking injunctive relief and re-payment of utility allowances to tenants.

Cruz v. Jack Hall Hawaii Housing Corporation

Civil No. 09-1-2077 (Haw. Cir. Ct).
Hawai‘i Appleseed represents tenants at Jack Hall Waipahu housing project in a class action to compensate tenants for unfair utility allowances. The case was filed on September 8, 2009. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Shea v. Kahuku Housing Foundation

Civil No. 09-1-2076 (Haw. Cir. Ct.)
Hawai‘i Appleseed represented tenants at Kahuku Elderly housing project in a class action to compensate tenants for unfair utility allowances. The case resulted in increased utility allowances and rebates for tenants for the utility costs they paid themselves. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Blake v. Nishimura

Civil No. 08-00281 (D. Haw)
Hawai‘i Appleseed represents tenants at Westlake Apartments, a City and County of Honolulu project, in a class action to compensate tenants for unfair utility allowances. This case resulted in increased utility allowances and significant awards of back rent. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Waters v. Housing and Community Development

Civil No. 05-1-0815 (Haw. Cir. Ct.)
Hawai‘i Appleseed represented a class tenants at Wilikina Apartments, a State of Hawaii project, in a class action to compensate tenants for unfair utility allowances. The case resulted in significant awards of back rent. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Smith v. Housing and Community Development

Civil No. 04-1-69K.(Haw. Cir. Ct.)
Hawai‘i Appleseed represented a statewide class of public housing tenants in Hawaii Circuit Court against the Hawaii Housing and Community Development Corporation, seeking classwide damages to compensate tenants for unfair utility allowances. The State ultimately settled the case, paying tenants $2.3 million. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Smith v. Aveiro

Civil No. 04-00309 (D. Haw).
Hawai‘i Appleseed represented tenants at Ke Hale Kahaluu public housing in U.S. District Court seeking classwide injunctive relief for failures by the Hawaii Housing and Community Development Corporation to provide fair utility allowances. The case was dismissed on mootness grounds in 2006, as the underlying issues had been resolved. Click here to view the case pleadings.

Amone v. Aveiro

Civil No. 04-00508 (D. Haw).
Hawai‘i Appleseed represented a statewide class of public housing tenants in U.S. District Court seeking injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Public Housing Act seeking fair utility allowances for disabled persons whose energy usage is higher than average. The Federal Court issued a permanent injunction, requiring the State to provide a fair subsidy to these individuals. Click here to view the case pleadings