“Housing was a critical problem at the beginning of the war.”
“On December 7, 1941, the only project operated by the Hawaii Housing Authority was Kamehameha homes consisting of 221 units for families in the low-income bracket.”
“Prior to the declaration of war, plans had been prepared for the construction of a low income family project of 368 units to be known as the Mayor Wright homes. The war prevented this development from going ahead since the buildings in the slum area on the site could not be demolished. Tenants living there were permitted to remain.” (DOI Annual Report, 1946)
Then, “Since the close of the war, one of the most important activities of the land department has consisted of arranging for the return of numerous tracts of territorial lands which had been transferred to the Army and Navy for military purposes.”
“Whenever it has been to the advantage of Federal agencies to give up the buildings and other improvements on territorial lands, and when the Territory or a county government needed the improvements, the office of the commissioner of public lands assisted in negotiating for the acquisition of title to the buildings in lieu of restoration performance of the premises involved.”
“As a result of this procedure of acquisition, the Territory and counties realized considerable savings in money, material, and labor, and gained title to a great deal of construction equipment, including buildings of various sizes …”
“… warehouses, quonset huts, water and sewer pipes, refrigeration plants, stoves of all descriptions, furniture, cable and electric wiring, reservoirs, gas storage facilities, septic tanks, water heaters, and generators.”
“The termination of hostilities with Japan caused an unprecedented demand for house lots. For a number of years prior to the beginning of the war, home building was curtailed, and such materials as might normally be needed to meet the housing requirements of a growing population were diverted to national defense.”
“With the beginning of war, these materials were actually frozen. In addition to this, a large number of existing home sites were taken over for military purposes.”
“The sale of public lands for home sites is the most beneficial purpose to which these lands can be dedicated. Every effort was made to subdivide and place on the market as house lots all public lands that were not under lease. Unfortunately, the area of unencumbered public land on Oahu, where the need is greatest, is decidedly limited.” (DOI Annual Report, 1946)
“During the past year (1946) the problem has become even more serious. The Governor’s housing committee and a committee of the chamber of commerce of Honolulu, after a careful study, reported that 11,000 additional houses were needed in the Honolulu-Pearl Harbor area.”
“A number of factors have militated against an adequate home-building program. The most important of these arc: (a) Scarcity of land even at an extremely high price, (b) unavailability of building materials, and (c) shortage and high cost of labor.”
“During the year over 3,900 families applied to the housing authority for homes. This number does not reflect the extent of the need since the public was aware of long waiting lists.”
“Of those who applied the authority could provide houses for only 1,265, 1,000 of whom were placed in Manoa war homes. This situation indicates the need for drastic action immediately to relieve the existing shortage of housing for all income groups.” (DOI Annual Report, 1946)
“The idea was to offer veterans a decent, affordable place to live while they found jobs, re-entered civilian life and saved up for a down payment on a permanent home. One-bedroom units went for $35 a month, 2-bedroom units were $42.50.” (Cataluna)
It worked for a while; then, “The Commissioners of the Authority froze vacancies as of January 1, 1956, at Manoa War Homes, a 982-unit temporary war housing project, as the site must be vacated, buildings demolished, and the land restored to its owners by June 30, 1958.”
“The project was relinquished by the Public Housing Administration to the Authority on June 30, 1953 at which time the Authority was able to obtain leases with the property owners for 3 years, with options to renew for two successive terms of 1 year each only.” (Annual Report of Governor to Secretary of Interior, 1956)
“During the year (1958) the Authority has continued the deprogramming of a relinquished 1,000-unit war housing project, Manoa War Homes.”
“On June 30, 1957, there were 519 families still living in the project. By June 30, 1958, the number had been reduced to 284. On June 30, 1958, the Authority returned approximately 44 acres of the 94-acre site to its owners. The area returned comprised 14 parcels of land and a portion of another parcel.” (Annual Report of Governor to Secretary of Interior, 1956)
Familiar Mānoa landmarks that were once the site of the Mānoa War Homes are the Mānoa Marketplace, Noelani School and Mānoa Innovation Center.
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Owen Miyamoto says
I recall the veterans’ housing in Manoa and had a friend living in one of the units Watching “MASH” on tv reminds me of the type of dwelling used in the housing. I don’t want to quibble but the arrow pointing to Manoa Marketplace actually is Kolowalu Avenue that I use daily and was improved with a bridge crossing Manoa Stream along with underground utilities leading to Woodlawn.
This brings back many sweet memories growing up in Mānoa housing, before moving to Kāne’ohe in an area dubbed “Veteran housing”.
Patti Nosaka Osebold says
I also have fond memories of running free with other kids, elementary age, in the neighborhood and going to the stream in back of our home. That kind of free feeling is a little lost these days. Does anyone know what the dimensions of the 2 bedroom house were? We lived in one of these.
Lorita L Bongo says
I have fond memories of Manoa Housing. Went to Manoa Housing Elementary School. The river that ran along side the school. Girls Pond and Boys Pond. Many different nationalities living in harmony. Remember a contest held at the school to name the new school that was going to be replaced Manoa Housing Elementary….Noelani Elementary was the Winner! lol
Toni Gulliver-Mayhut says
I, too, lived in Manoa Housing from about 1947 to 1959. We lived on Wa’ahila Street, Kaloaluiki Street, and Kolowalu Street. Till today, I have very fond memories of living there. Whenever I visit my family on O’ahu, I take a ride through that beautiful valley to relive my adventures–catching crayfish in Manoa Stream, visiting the old Chinese cemetery, watching the workers on the Manoa lettuce farm, picking plumerias at the old Hawaiian cemetery or just playing outside with my friends. I also attended Maryknoll School beginning in first grade. On Saturdays, our family would go to the large community hall to sweep it clean and set up metal chairs for the Sunday Mass. I would also practice with the choir, as did my mom, who loved to sing. Father Avery from Sacred Heart Church offered Mass there, and the hall was always full of worshippers. We had to kneel on the wooden floor in those days!
My mom would send me to buy groceries at Toyo’s Superette on East Manoa Road. I also remember the small dry goods store on East Manoa Road as well as the Manoa bakery that made the best glazed donuts—I think we would get one dozen for $.60.
There was not a Noelani School when I was there in kindergarten (1952)–it was known as Manoa Housing School and it was located just past Manoa Stream on the right as you look up the valley on what was then Kolowalu Street.
There were friends and neighbors of every race and color in Manoa Housing, and we got along beautifully. I will always cherish those years, and I will never forget!
Toni Gulliver-Mayhut says
Are you Rita John from Red HIll Housing?