Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

BY JIM DOOLEY – A private Mainland-based company is conducting the “compliance audit” of a Maui public housing project plagued by chronic vacancies and overdue repair work.

Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

Karen Seddon, executive director of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., said the audit is being performed by Spectrum Enterprises, which is already under contract to the agency to provide housing analysis services.

The company is headquartered in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Karen Seddon

Seddon declined to comment on a statement Wednesday by Maui legislator Angus McKelvey that HHFDC wants rents lowered and vacant units filled within 30 days at Honokokowai Kauhale, where some 71 units have been vacant for months and years.

McKelvey, D-10th (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei), said he and state Sen. Roz Baker, D-5th (West Maui) “are pushing for a speedy resolution” of problems at the 184-unit affordable housing project.

“We want the (management) contract to be declared null and void but the investigation has to be completed first,” he said.

Seddon said her agency, which owns nine affordable housing facilities around the state, has met with Realty Laua, the company which holds a $1.75 million, three-year contract to manage Honokowai Kauhale.

She said she couldn’t speak about results of those talks or about McKelvey’s statement about cancellation of the contract.

Realty Laua has not returned telephoned requests for comment from Hawaii Reporter.

HHFDC spokesman Kent Miyasaki said representatives from Spectrum Enterprises did “meet with Realty Laua to discuss lowering rents” at the project.

According to rental application forms, new tenants are now charged $1,000 to $1,500 per month, depending on the size of the unit.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com