Rents Up and Down at State-Owned Maui Housing Complex

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Honokowai Kauhale on Maui
Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

BY JIM DOOLEY – Rents for new tenants are lower at the state’s Honokowai Kauhale affordable housing project on Maui but they’re higher for longer-term occupants, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. said this afternoon.

A news story yesterday in Hawaii Reporter said residents who moved into the 184-unit complex before November 2008 recently received certified notifications that their rents would rise next month.

The letters were sent by property manager Lisa Faleafine and came after HHFDC executive director Karen Seddon said rents would be lowered to cure the facility’s extremely high vacancy rate.

In an email message today, Seddon said HHFDC “did not approve the letter signed by the resident manager” but did approve “rent increases, ranging from 1 to 3 percent, for tenants who occupied their units prior to

Mold-coated stairway at Honokowai Kauhale

November 2008.”

Honokowai Kauhale now has “three rent tiers” for different groups of tenants, Seddon said.

“It is not uncommon for affordable housing developments to have multiple layers of rent structures,” said Seddon. Differing rents are caused by “restrictions embedded within the various programs we operate under,” she said.

Rents now range from a low of $775 per month for a one-bedroom one-bath unit to a high of $1,400 for a three-bedroom two-bath apartment, according to Seddon.

In establishing rents, she said, “HHFDC strives to strike a balance between the needs of lower and moderate-

Karen Seddon

income households, program restrictions and the economic realities constraining any multifamily property owner.”

As of last month, some 40 per cent of the apartments at Honokowai Kauhale were vacant.
HHFDC spokesman Kent Miyasaki said 37 of the vacant units were ready for occupancy and 32 were in need of repair.

Former project maintenance supervisor Glenn Ishikawa put the total umber of vacancies at 71 and provided paperwork showing that a few of the apartments had been unoccupied for more than five years and 49 had been vacant for more than a year.

Filling those vacancies would have generated enough income to cover the $583,752 annual fee paid by the state to Faleafine’s firm to manage Honokowai Kauhale.

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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

26 COMMENTS

  1. Karen Seddon-What the hell is going on! by now you would think we the tenant would’ve been addressed by you directly. But nothing! When the hell are you gonna ensure us that everything is be taken cared of? If you said that HHFDC didn’t approve this letter, Then why is Lisa sending us these increases to all tenants?.Now it sure looks like she did something Ilegal. And why isn’t anyone especially you Seddan not monitoring her actions. She is out of control and running this place like she is GOD!. Seddon you are contradicting this whole situation! and you make no sence. We dont need another increase! we demand for a replaced management who is honest, professional and caring. Stop making excuses and fix the problem now! It’s a no brainer.

  2. Seddon don’t forget Lisa is the same manager when it was Urban Management and the same manager of Realty Laua, so I don’t think Lisa can say corrections were made to correct Urban’s mistake of 2008. HELLO…she is the MISTAKE. HHFDC I am thoroughly confused now as to what the rent for the long time tenants are supposed to pay. If it is what you had decreed in 2008 the increase now is not warranted. Realty Laua has been collecting monies from tenants and State all this time and running it to the ground. Its time for Realty Laua to step up and repay what they have cost all of us. Deteriorated buildings, vacant units, broken lights, trashed laundry rooms, terrorized tenants…clean up this management…clean them out the door if they are not seriously trying to fix what they have done. Seddon/Lois Churchill/Property Manager Nelson now that the compliance audit is over things are right back to the dirty laundry rooms, the missing felons and the overworked good staff that we appreciate (it ain’t iokepa, genghis or lisa). In your audit did you find all the paychecks you’ve (the state) paid the “Three Stooges” (iokepa, genghis lisa) for all the “0” hours worked as full days? Yeah! No more excuses…fix the damn problem! Send them packing!

  3. Lanakila-“A no brainer?” I think that is what the state is missing. Maybe they can learn from that tv show where the boss goes and works in the company undercover to learn what is going on. Or maybe they can put hidden cameras in where the manager cant see it.
    Theodore-Is realty luau really all the same folks from the last management company? Who is Churchill and Nelson?
    Mr. Dooley-Did the state tell you what the different programs they operate under are? It sounds like all of the rents were the same until 2008 so why all of the different rents now? I am not so dumb to figure out that this again makes no sense. The state is just trying to confuse us and hope that we will stop asking questions. What do the two Maui legislatures have to say about this stuff the state is saying?

  4. If Seddon did not approve this rent increase letter, why did Lisa promote her signed title from Resident Manager for Honokowai Kauhale to RESIDENT MANAGER FOR HHFDC. Did she promote herself to an upgraded status?
    Why? Where is Realty Laua in all this. Daddy Lui, Uncle Robert your family member is self-promoting herself and (not to make an ass out of myself) I assume your silence means that you are behind her or are you too busy talking with your lawyer to find some technicality to find us all wrong in regards to vacant units and bad management. You realize the longer she stays, until you clean up this mess, she will take her own family business down and your network in HHFDC to satisfy her own ego. She’s out of control and the collateral damage will include your down fall

  5. First of all Karen Seddon you should be ASHAMED of yourself, your company and for everything you stand for. You know you can make this right but you choose not too because you are in denial. Reading about this whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.
    My family and I were one of the first to occupy an apartment at Honokowai Kauhale when it was first built. To be more pricise we were the 4th family to occupy. Our rent for two bedrm. was $800 back then and we could afford it with both of us working. It was a wonderful place to live and raise my children and I don’t regret one bit living there. We lived there for a couple of years, moved away for a couple of years and came back to Honokowai Kauhale for the last 4 years prior to owning our own home.
    During those years we lived there we dealt with 2 different managers and let me tell you not one of them is anything like your current manager there now.
    While on a visit at Honokowai Kauhale I saw first hand of how BAD of an ATTITUDE and DISRESPECTFUL Ms. Feleafine has towards the tenants. NO ONE (I’m sure you too Ms. Seddon) appreciates when someone is DISRESPECTFUL to you, and Ms. Feleafine displayed that clearly with her actions. This poor tenant did not say a thing fearing Ms. Feleafina would retaliate anyway she wants for her own satisfaction. It’s sounds like Ms. Felafine has POWER trip and taking advantage of your company who’s paying her I’m sure a pretty awesome salary only to HARASS the tenants who are doing their best trying to work multiple jobs to provide a home for their family.
    Honokowai Kauhale is in the WORST shape it’s ever been. It fits right under the word GHETTO. The amount the tenants are getting charge for rent is NOT FAIR for the condition it’s in but more importantly for the BAD MANAGEMENT which YOU MS. SEDDON should really take a hard look not only from your eyes and mind but from your HEART and listen to what these tenants are crying out too. You need to do what’s right and make it right and bring Honokowai Kauhale up to par.
    I cannot believe YOU ALLOWED Ms. Feleafine and her family’s company to manage this complex knowing their past history. It’s such a shame. If you know (and I’m sure you do) that you made a mistake by hiring this company with poor management then you need to be the bigger person and FIX IT instead of trying to “save your face”.
    For starts..you should remove that entire mangement company and get someone who’s professional, fair, not prejudice basically NOT someone like Ms. Feleafine and her family’s company.
    I failed to also include that my daughter who is a single parent went to apply for a 1 bedroom apartment last year and was quoted by Ms Feleafine that it would be between $1200-1400 a month. With that said, she didn’t have a chance and walked away. Basically telling her she can’t afford it. Go figure……It’s sickening.
    As for ex-felons working there not too mention her boyfriend…isn’t that conflict of interest but worst of all to have 2 felons working there…this picture is not right. Ms. Seddon, you seem to be a smart women…do you realize if anything happen because of this 2 felons who also possess master keys to the apartments, the major LIABILITY you face. But hell with the liability I’m just for the SAFETY of the families there not to mention the CHILDREN.
    So again DO WHAT IS RIGHT! I pray for you.

  6. Murray-Realty Laua is the same company that once was Urban Realty, they have several names they go under. Ever since the problems that happened in Hilo, Kona and now Oahu KPT. Companies do that to hide bad buisness. Churchill, Ms Lois, is the lady was hired to come to Maui to do a Compliance Audit. But no mean shet, because she was the very one that came earlier in February to look for Safety problems, but was not paying attention to the enormous amount of empty units, and the runned down landscaping, and not to mention the mold that was just covering the entire property. She is just looking the other way. This is so un justice of Seddon to take more money from those tenants. Nelson was the HHFDC in Oahu that I heard they complained to first and then they pushed it to his boss which is Seddon the Executive of HHFDC. So you see the bullshet circle that’s going around.It really goes back to the State.

  7. (In an email message today, Seddon said HHFDC “did not approve the letter signed by the resident manager” but did approve “rent increases, ranging from 1 to 3 percent, for tenants who occupied their units prior to November 2008″)

    redundant much? you didn’t authorize the letter but you did authorize the increases that were on the letter… i guess that means, so long as anything is written out, you have nothing to do with it.

  8. Perhaps HHFDC executive director Karen Seddon ALSO needs to be replaced as her actions or lack thereof has not quieted the clamor of the irate tenants.

  9. Hey Look Murray…Honokowai is going thru the same route as the Kona Project that struggled to get rid of Lisa and Urban Mgmt aka Realty Laua does this Legal Aid Lawyer’s plea sound familiar? “It is clearly not in HCDCH interest to maintain the status quo in this situation To continue to allow Lisa Faleafine-Akana and Urban Real Estate to retain their current position will only lead to greater frustration within the community and an increasing waste of HCDCH resources as residents and their advocates are forced to abandon informal attempts to resolve their problems for more costly but more effective alternatives I urge you to consider finding an alternative to the current management “

  10. Hey it looks like it worked before in the Kona project so maybe they should give Legal Aid a try! Legal action always seems to wake the state up. Can’t wait to here what rep. Baker has to say about this stuff she is a tough lady who stands up for her folks.

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