Hawaii Judges Lead Grassroots Effort to Help Landlords and Tenants Curb Evictions

First Circuit District Court Judges Hilary B. Gangnes and Michael K. Tanigawa are leading a grassroots effort called STAE (Steps to Avoid Eviction).  STAE’s mission is to find ways to ensure that landlords get paid the rent they are owed and tenants are not evicted, by encouraging tenants and landlords to use available resources in a more timely and effective manner.

Judiciary“There are a lot of organizations and people out there who want to help,” said Judge Michael Tanigawa.  “The first step was getting everyone together in one room to discuss current landlord and tenant challenges and to see how we could more effectively partner together and use the resources we have.  The next step was getting essentially a one-stop-shop of information, listing the collective resources and services currently offered to landlords and tenants.”

The grassroots effort includes representatives from the State Department of Human Services, Homeless Programs Office; City & County of Honolulu, Department of Community Services; University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law, Students for Public Outreach and Civics Education; Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Hawaii; Legal Aid Society of Hawaii; Helping Hands Hawaii; Catholic Charities Hawaii; Mediation Center of the Pacific; and landlord attorneys David Chee, Kenneth Lau, and Richard Yanagi. The group put together an informational flyer (please see attached), which will be distributed throughout the community.  The Honolulu Board of Realtors has also offered to make copies of the flyers for distribution to community groups.

“By the time the landlord-tenant cases come to us, it is frequently too late,” said Civil Lead Judge Hilary B. Gangnes.  “We see many mom and pop landlords struggling to make ends meet after their tenants have skipped months of rent.  We also see tenants who are drowning in mounting bills, often after unexpected circumstances.  The key is early intervention.  We hope by providing more collaborative information, we can help save landlords and tenants time and money, as well as curb evictions.”

“I’d like to thank Judges Gangnes and Tanigawa for their initiative and desire to help the community, as well as District Court Chief Judge Barbara Richardson for her leadership,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “I also want to extend my appreciation and thanks to the city and state agencies, non-profit organizations, community partners and those in the private sector, whose collaborative efforts and generous support have made this initiative possible.

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