The Hawaii Public Housing Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday morning to appoint Muslim Association of Hawaii President Hakim Ouansafi as HPHA Executive Director. According to information presented to the Board, Ouansafi's appointment has already received approval from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development which is required under conditions of a 2002 "Corrective Action Order" giving HUD oversight of the troubled agency. Ouansafi's appointment also received the support of Gov Neil Abercrombie's Director of Human Services Pat McManaman who told the Board that Ouansafi's application "really stood out".
According to the Hawaii Islamic Information Office, Ouansafi's Manoa Mosque is backed by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Fahad Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Ouansafi, who acknowledges that "foreign money ... come(s) with strings attached," has publicly mooted plans to build a larger mosque in downtown Honolulu.
Paid $88,000 per year, the HPHA manages Hawaii's 6,000 public housing units scattered throughout 80-plus sites statewide. HPHA is in the midst of a $135M public-private renovation of the Towers at Kuhio Park, Hawaii's largest public housing project. As has been the case with many agency heads since Governor Neil Abercrombie took office, the previous Executive Director, Denise Wise, resigned October 12 "for personal reasons" after about one-and-one-half years at the helm.