Honokowai Kauhale on Maui
Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

BY JIM DOOLEY – Dozens of letters of support have been written to the state on behalf of embattled Maui housing project manager Lisa Faleafine by residents of the apartment complex she oversees.

The letters are addressed to Karen Seddon, executive director of the Hawaii Housing and Finance Development Corp., owner of Honokowai Kauhale, a 184-unit West Maui “affordable housing” project where nearly 40 per cent of the units are vacant.

Seddon has ordered a “compliance audit” to determine the reasons for the high vacancy rate at the facility, which contributes to an acute shortage of affordable housing in the West Maui area.

The letters describe Faleafine as a sensitive and attentive landlord who cares for the residents and their children at Honokowai Kauhale.

“I have seen her take care of the property and especially other tenants’ children when they had to leave in the middle of the night for an emergency,” one letter writer said.

“Lisa also has a weekly art class and ukulele class free of charge,” the letter continued.

“She also had the weekly ‘Feed My Sheep’ which is similar to the Food Bank Program right on site to help those who were struggling in between paychecks so their family would not go without food,” the same letter writer said.

At least three children also wrote letters on behalf of Faleafine, who they described as “Aunty Lisa.”

The letters were sent from a common email address — HonokowaiKauhale@yahoo.com – but don’t share the common language or structure found in many organized letter-writing campaigns.

Several of the writers blamed the high vacancies at Honokowai Kauhale on high rental rates assessed new tenants at the project, which was built in 1989.

“Yes we have many vacant units but only because in 2008 they raised the rent and nobody wants to pay $1,200 for an apartment that is supposed to be ‘low income,’” one writer said.

“If (it) was like before we would be full with a long wait list!! But how is that Lisa’s fault??” the resident wrote.

A number of negative letters about Faleafine and her live-in boyfriend, state parolee Iokepa Auwae, have also

Honokowai Kauhale

been written to Seddon.

Some of the new letters letters praised Auwae, who is on parole from state prison following convictions for kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery and gun offenses.

“I am a single mom with 3 young children and to them he is “uncle kepa” the first one they run to if they brake a toy or to fix their bike, or even giving my oldest son 14 yrs. old … talks about being a good kid and positive guidance about what not to do,” one resident wrote.

Hawaii Reporter last month disclosed the high vacancy rate and the backgrounds of Faleafine, Auwae and another convicted felon, Genghis Kaihewalu, who works with Auwae as a groundskeeper at Honokowai Kauhale.

Faleafine previously worked as a property manager at a state-owned public housing project on the Big Island that was harshly criticized in 2002 for mismanagement problems and substandard living conditions.

Her family owns the company that has contracted with the state to manage various affordable and low-income housing projects around the state.

Seddon and HHFDC spokesman Kent Miyasaki have given limited responses  to questions about the rental and vacancy rates at Honokowai Kauhale.

State Rep. Angus McKelvey, D-10th (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei), said last week that HHFDC wants the rents lowered and vacant units occupied within 30 days.

Seddon would not confirm that statement, saying she is waiting for completion of the compliance audit.

Miyasaki said HHFDC’s asset manager position was vacant for an extended period of time – it was recently filled – and the agency did not know of the high vacancy rate at Honokowai Kauhale until questioned about it by Hawaii Reporter.

He said 37 units are ready for rental and 32 need repair work before they can be occupied.

Glenn Ishikawa, former Honokowai Kauhale maintenance supervisor, said last month 71 units are vacant – some for months and some for as long as five years.

He said the state and Faleafine have been slow to order necessary repairs.

Realty Laua LLC, the Faleafine company that holds a $1.75 million, three-year contract to manage Honokowai Kauhale, has not responded to requests for comment.

HHFDC owns 1,437 apartments in nine housing projects on the Big Island, Maui and Oahu. See the list of projects and vacancies here: Housing Projects

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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

24 COMMENTS

  1. lanakila…. no one said everything was “honkey dorey” i simply am stateing my personal opinion just like you.Is it not possible that maybe we have different opinions or experiences?? and if we do that does not mean that anyone has done me any favors i am speaking from my own personal experiance.Another thing is i am definatly not “fresh” around here, I just dont have the same opinion. I have that right just like you,to express my feelings That does not make me “fresh” or stupid another thing is this should not become a personal attack against each other because we all have different opinions.I think its best said that we should just agree to disagree.

  2. Pecas(Freckles)…Stop denying the fact that you are treated special by Lisa nad Kepa. We all know that you are single and a mother of 3, and Lisa babysits your kids!. That’s the main reason why you are obligated to say all of these wonderful things about them. Yes we know that Lisa watches your kids and all that stuff, but you haven’t gotten to experience her evil side yet. So yah everything is Honkey Dorey with you. And what about that water slide huh? Privledges to the ones that brown nose Lisa. And another thing! This is not a personal attack from a Fired Employee, but an Guardian Angel that’s warning us all that we are being ripped off and abused by the system. Do your research and educate yourself instead of seeing it one sided.

  3. Why does the state need to wait for the compliance audit to be finished before they make rents cheaper? A little kid could tell you that thye need to be lower if nobody wants to live there! I say it again that Seddon knew all of this was going on and is hiding behind some audit to cover it all up. I want to know what the governor is doing about all of this because I am a tax payer and they are wasting my money.

    I also did some searching and there is a problem there also. 50% vacancies for years! And kind of like Honolowai they have been given monthly reports for years and done nothing. Come on Mr. Dooley I told you there are other stories to be digged up in this place!

    • OMG so speaking of lowering rents…TODAY SEPTEMBER 19th we all got a certified letter stating that they are raising our rent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe it. This place isn’t worth it.

  4. Murray!..I’m telling you, I smell a rat! It’s SEDDON, she is big time getting kick backs and no doubt Realty Laua. That’s why this is taking so long?. If it wasn’t an inside job, this shet wouldn’t take that long, to get them out!. This STINKS! She is covering up her tracks. Governor Ambercrombie needs to know already!……In the mean time these 2 convicted felons still continues to open up doors and stroll around, not doing shet! taunting and acting like they are un-touchables. STATE! officials, what will it take for you all- to do what’s right!. Perhaps something will happen while the heat is on, when someone or somebody will be either be killed or hurt, then they will be removed! We are not facing just small kind felons here we are dealing with Attempted murders, robbery, and my God! Firearms…But by then it’ll be too late!……This is all about money they don’t care about peoples lives anymore.

  5. Lanakila I am not sure about kickbacks as I got no proof on that but she has got to know more than she is saying she does. I can’t imagine how she and the rest of those dam state workers can say they didn’t know a thing about what is going on at Honokowai. Is that spokesman guy Miyasaki a idiot or is Seddon controlling what he says. Like I said earlier I heard the staff if super scared of Seddon.

    Come on Mr. Dooley we are counting on you to not let them sweep this under the rug. Have you tried talking to any of the board guys or staff?

  6. Murray-A tenant just told me that they recieved a letter from HHFDC from the resident manager on another Increase to their rent? Oh My God!…Talk about Insult to more Injury?. HHFDC has no compation for these tenants, and demands for money for such a low down Ghetto. I really feel for these tenants and the struggles they are facing with this bad management. What gets me is why are they still there?.Especially Lisa she is being investigated, and she still there continue to retaliate all she wants. These Felons from what I’m hearing still roams the complex, continue to do what they are doing?. Mr. Dooley we need to find out from HHFDC, and the State officials on whats happening. More and More this is looking like a cover up all the way to the top! If it wasn’t this matter would’ve been done with.

    • Lanakila~ we are still here because we have no where else to go….its a long wait list for other “affordable” housing…which believe me I am trying. Unfortunatly for now I am forced to stay here. Just praying for change. What I don’t understand is why the rent keeps getting raised and no work around here is being done…tree;s haven’t been cut in 3 years and branches are always falling…waiting to hit a car or child…the park has no swings and at one point they stopped watering the grass and said do it yourself???? Its frustrating and I hope they do something about this….things go on around here like nothing happened. I don’t know who is righting those letters supporting her because every single person I’ve talked to has nothing nice to say about her or her boyfriend???? Maybe it’s her boyfriends family…. not sure but I find it hard to believe…. I’m tired of feeling hopeless….I need someone to stand up for us.

  7. Secret7-Exactly we are going to stay here, and they, Lisa and her living inhouse boyfriend along with his jail buddy will be leaving soon!. They are not getting rid of us!. Things will our way!. They can charge us all they like but soon we will get credit for it. Once they finish the investigation very thoroughly and efficiently.

    Yes! I agree that this place is not worth paying more for all the unkept and out of control maintenance that suppose to have been done. The entire complex looks like shet! Again we ask Lisa “Where did the money go! Perhaps you are just spending it all on your useless boyfriend with dirt bikes, to Polaris, Boats, Truck and SUV with fancy rims, and oh! yah your washer and dryer in your unit outside your balcony. Must be nice to have all that expenses and the luxury of spending all of our tax payers money.

    And you are the most Egotistic, Evil and Vendictive, Greedy with no compation for others, I have ever encountered. You should be working for MCCC, or better yet after finding out your scheme with HHFDC and your family, your’e gonna be looking behind bars

  8. Are you joking that they are raising rent? I thought Mr. Dooley wrote earlier that the state said they are going to lwer the rents for Honokowai? Better call the legislatures that spoke to Seddon. More lies all the time. When is the dam audit coming out? Try calling that Miyasaki guy and see what he says now. This is another example of the state taking advantage of the public and thinking we are dumb.

  9. Murray-No joking it’s true after that Lois Churchill came an did a Compliance Audit, doing what they suppose do from the last time her ass was here. And better yet I’m sure she seen those empty units, after all she authorized them to cover up all those pukas with ply boards?…She has gotta be in this from the get go!. Karen Seddon is behind this I’m sure of it as well as Realty Laua. They are all ripping off those less fortunate people, and getting away from it from when Lisa came aboard, that’s why their lawyers fought for the bid. I guarantee you!. And now she leaves the property trying to get peoples input on whats been happening is a crock of Shet! They are just showing they are doing something about it, but it will be ignored and put on the burner, and perhaps just see how long we can fight it. No sense call this Miyasaki guy at all he has no clout! He is just a Gadute for Seddon. Bottom line is what the hell just have them pay the price because there is no other place for them, so they gotta stay and deal with it…Until they really figure it out then we will deal with it, and no worry, We have our plans to cover it up.Just as long as the money keeps coming in.

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