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Judge rules housing complex in Lahaina must keep rents affordable

Front Street Apartments in Lahaina, Maui.
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Front Street Apartments in Lahaina, Maui.

Rents will not increase for tenants of an affordable housing complex in Lahaina. That’s the latest development in a case that involved a developer who sought to remove a 51-year restriction on raising rent.

Front Street Affordable Housing Partners built the Front Street Apartments in 2001 in return for $15 million in state-funded tax credits, and a promise to keep rent affordable through 2051.

But after 15 years, the developer requested and got the OK from the Hawaiʻi Housing Finance and Development Corporation to raise the rent.

Tenants filed suit and in August 2020, Hawaiʻi Federal District Court Judge Jill Otake ruled that the developer was obligated to honor its commitment to keep rents affordable for 51 years.

The developer appealed and the case was scheduled for oral arguments before the federal Ninth Court of Appeals on July 8. But the developer filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on July 1.

Mike Tuttle, a Front Street resident and plaintiff in the case, said the stress of not knowing if he would lose his home has taken a toll but the level of joy and relief he feels is hard to put into words now that it’s over.

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