Maintenance issues persist in aging dorms at UH Manoa

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Students living in dormitories at the University of Hawaii at Manoa continue to reach out to us for help with housing issues.

A leaky ceiling created a large hole in one of the rooms at the Hale Wainani student apartment complex.

“There’s a giant hole in our ceiling they’ve now cut because of the leak. It started about four months ago,” said sophomore Jordan Sleeth.

The university says last November, a leak started on the floor above and was fixed. This month, just two months later, another leak happened.

The school says that problem was fixed last Friday, and the hole, which is located above the toilet, will be patched up this week.

In the meantime, Sleeth said, “Having a giant hole in my bathroom where I can’t use my bathroom and I have to use a restroom far away, or have to ask a friend to use their bathroom, it’s really frustrating.

“We’ve had a million people look at our ceiling,” she added. “They (student housing) says be patient. It will get fixed. It’s been like that since November. We don’t count on anyone ever coming in and actually doing something. It never gets done.”

Student housing associate director David Akana says the issue was taken care of, but we’re told it had to go through the state procurement process to get a plumber to do the work.

They did offer her an alternative bathroom. Sleeth has to take the elevator down to the first floor, exit the building, and walk to a vacant dorm.

“It’s been a terrible experience. I have a lot of friends who go through the same thing, so I know it’s not just this room. Several rooms have a lot of problems in the old dorms,” she said.

Student Housing Services says 4,000 students dorm at UH Manoa.

We’re told student housing responded to 6,209 maintenance requests in 2015, which covers anything from broken light bulbs to air conditioners breaking to leaks.

“We’ve had students reach out to KHON2 seeking help, because they say they feel student housing has been unhelpful. Can anything be done to improve communication?” KHON2 asked Akana.

“I think we can always get better with communication. I would say with students, let us know. We have staff assigned, both student and professional, to every building as points of contact if a student has a concern,” said Akana. “We have the service request system in place, but if students put something in and feels like they don’t have an update or are not sure what’s going on, what I always recommend is to talk to their resident assistant or their residence director, who are all in their building. Those folks can work with the students on the information and the update with the process of repairs.”

Built in 1978, Hale Wainani is one of the oldest dormitories on campus. With maintenance concerns lingering, we wanted to know what long-term solutions UH has to address the aging apartments.

The university says it’s eventually getting rid of its older student dorms, which were built nearly 40 years ago.

Student housing says more maintenance issues tend to happen there, which is part of why money is prioritized specifically for repairs.

Since 2008, the university has spent $140 million renovating and building new dorms, improving 60 percent of dorm space.

UH says it will eventually get rid of its older dorms, but there’s no specific date.

“The way Wainani is built now, if we renovate it, we will have the exact same building from the 70s,” said university spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. “We have to take a hard look at what do we need? What do students want? What should it include? We don’t want to spend the money willy-nilly. We need to make sure the university needs for future and what our students need in the future.”

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