Select Accomplishments

Education

Successfully resolved a class action lawsuit against the Hawai`i Department of Education (DOE) for its failure to permit children who had become homeless from continuing to attend their home school as required by the federal McKinney-Vento Act. The settlement requires the DOE to conduct outreach to homeless families and families at risk of becoming homeless to notify them of their children’s right under the settlement, to pay for transportation costs for the children to attend their original neighborhood school and to facilitate speedy transfer of school records if the parent decides to enroll the child in a different school. Approximately 2000 homeless children annually are affected by the resolution. (2007-2008)
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Health Care

Successfully resolved two separate class action lawsuits against the Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS), ending the department’s attempt to impose severe cuts to health care services for Micronesians legally residing in the state under the Compact of Free Association (COFA). The cases were resolved with the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction by the Federal District Court in Honolulu finding that DHS had violated the constitutional protections of due process and equal protection of our clients. Approximately 8000 COFA migrants directly benefit by the rulings and received health care benefits worth approximately $12 million annually. (2009-2011)
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Housing

  1. Successfully resolved class action lawsuits against the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) for its long-standing failure to properly maintain two separate housing projects, Kuhio Park Terrace (KPT) and Kuhio Homes. Kuhio Park Terrace (KPT) is the state’s largest public housing complex and is comprised of two 16 story towers that contain 618 units. Kuhio Homes is a two story complex comprised of 125 units. The settlements included the installation of six new elevators, new garbage chutes and fire alarm system, restoration of reliable hot water and implementation of an appropriate vermin prevention program. A private/public partnership created after the successful resolution of the case has resulted in over $150 million being allocated for a complete restoration of the complex. (2008-2011) Click here to read more.
  2. Successfully resolved a class action lawsuit against the HPHA for its continuous failure to properly respond to requests from disabled tenants for reasonable accommodations under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement included the implementation of a new policy on providing reasonable accommodations, time frames for mandated actions and removal of public barriers at KPT and Kuhio Homes. Approximately 300 disabled tenants are affected by the resolution. (2008-2011) Click here to read more.
  3. Successfully resolved a class action lawsuit against the HPHA for rent overcharges due to its failure to reduce rents when utility costs increased. The settlement provided for rent rebates amounting to $2.3 million for approximately 3100 tenants and a reduction in future rent payments of approximately $150,000 per month. The settlement also increased monthly utility subsidies to disabled persons who experienced a higher rate of utility usage due to medical equipment required because of their individual disabilities. (2003-2006) Click here to read more.
  4. Successfully resolved a class action lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu for rent overcharges in the Westlake Apartments because of its failure to reduce rent when utility costs increased. The settlement provided for rent rebates amounting to $45,000 for the 95 tenants in the complex and the benefit of the rent reductions on an ongoing basis. (2007-2009) Click here to read more.
  5. Successfully resolved a class action lawsuit against the Kahuku Housing Foundation for rent overcharges in the Kahuku Senior Housing Project because of its failure to reduce rent when utility costs increased. The settlement provided for rent rebates amounting to $38,000 for the 64 senior citizen tenants in the complex. The tenants also benefit from appropriate utility adjustments on an ongoing basis. In addition, the settlement provided for an end to the retaliatory actions of the owners which included prohibiting the Kahuku Public Library Bookmobile from providing services to tenants and refusal to allow the Tenant Resident Council to hold meetings in the project’s Community Center. (2009-2011) Click here to read more.

Nutrition

Obtained a Preliminary Injunction in federal court requiring the State of Hawaii to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications in a timely manner, as mandated by federal law. The State had fallen significantly behind in processing new applications for food stamps within the federally required time frame of 30 days. Click here to read more.

Social Services

Served as a founding member of the advocacy organization known as PHOCUSED (Protecting Hawai`i’s Ohana, Children, Under-Served, Elderly and Disabled) which is the primary advocate for health and human services programs and their clients in Hawaii. LEJ’s work including completing the incorporation of the organization and obtaining the organization’s 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. LEJ’s Executive Director serves as the organization’s Vice President. In 2011, PHOCUSED was successful in reducing anticipated state cuts in funding for health and human services programs and gaining the release of $23.6 million in additional funding. (2007-Ongoing) Click here to read more.