Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

BY JIM DOOLEY – Over the last five years, an independent contractor who annually inspected a troubled state affordable housing project on Maui made only passing references to the ever-rising vacancy rate at the complex, according to copies of the inspection reports.

Honokowai Kauhale on Maui

The most recent report, written in February, said nothing at all about vacancies at Honokowai Kauhale, even though more than a third of project’s 184 units by then had been empty for months and even years.

The state won’t release the findings of a special visit to the project last month by the same inspector, Lois Churchill of Spectrum Enterprises, Inc., citing an exception to the state’s open records law.

In August, the state acknowledged to Hawaii Reporter that nearly 40 per cent of the apartments at Honokowai Kauhale were unoccupied: 37 were ready for tenancy and 32 were in need of repair.

Kent Miyasaki, spokesman for the property owner, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., said in August that the agency was unaware of the high vacancy rate at Honokowai Kauhale until questioned about it by Hawaii Reporter.

The agency has since ordered that rental rates be lowered for the vacant units but increased by two per cent for the apartments that have been occupied by the same tenants since November 2008.

In response to news stories, residents’ complaints and inquiries from legislators, HHFDC executive director Karen Seddon ordered Churchill last month to conduct a “compliance audit” of conditions at Honokowai Kauhale.

The report of her findings was completed late last month, but Seddon has refused to release it, citing a section of state law which imposes confidentiality to “avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function.”

Seddon did release Spectrum Reports written from 2006-2010 by Churchill after blacking out sections of the documents which identified the specific units inspected by Churchill. Seddon also assessed $62.50 in processing and copying fees before releasing the reports.

Churchill’s company is based in Maine and is under contract with housing agencies around the country to provide inspection and auditing services.

Her reports on Honokowai Kauhale show that each year, she inspected 20 per cent of some 110 apartments at the project which were available to tenants whose income levels qualified them for a financial “rental assistance program.”

Glenn Ishikawa, a former maintenance supervisor at Honokowai Kauhale, said that he accompanied Churchill on her annual site inspections.

“She randomly selected apartments, giving us a list of the ones she wanted to see, but she never went into vacant units,” said Ishikawa.

“If a unit wasn’t rented, she wouldn’t go in,” said Ishikawa.

It’s not clear if keeping track of vacancies was part of Churchill’s duties, although she noted in her 2006-10 reports that unspecified numbers of units were “down” (unoccupied) because of leaky roofs.

“Units are down due to active roof leaks in several buildings. The count of down units is now at least ten (10), according to on-site management staff, Churchill wrote in 2006.

She made exactly the same finding in 2007.

In 2008, Churchill reported that “units are down due to active roof leaks and/or mold in several buildings. The count of down units is now at least seventeen.”

The following year, Churchill found that leaky roofs had been repaired.

“However,” she reported, “we note that several other buildings now have units down due to roof issues.”

Last year, Churchill reported: “No additional roof repairs have been done since the 2009 inspection. Units are down in buildings 1, 8, 10, 11, 16, and 17 due to roof leaks. When is additional work planned?”

Ishikawa told Hawaii Reporter that even in buildings where the roofs had been repaired units were still unoccupied 18 months later because the resident manager hadn’t approved final minor repairs like “replacing a cabinet door or hanging a bedroom door.”

The report written by Churchill about her February 2 site visit this year was silent on the issue of vacancies, but noted that “no additional roof repairs have been done since the 2009 inspection.”

She said she was told that “additional repairs will be done in 2011.”

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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

7 COMMENTS

  1. What ?????? state law to “avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function.” THEY WANT TO AVOID FRUSTRATION? Where’s a law for US NOT TO BE FRUSTRATED!!! Thanks Seddon…i don’t know how to thank you for ALL YOUR HELP!

  2. You know- To make things simpler and easier, why don’t all of our Lawmakers including Karen Seddon, Maui News and Jim Dooley,just have a site visit and checkout all of the problem, and the empty units, the bust up landscaping, etc. perhaps Karen Seddon would be shocked and tear up too. That way there’s no back and forth,waiting for their summaries and reports, etc. GET THE JOB DONE ALREADY!….Dammmm it’s a no brainer just get over here at look for yourselves stop wasting our tax monies to hire these experts from all the way on the east coast. Churchill is just covering up for Seddon….Come On! common sence!

  3. Are you guys fricken kidding me right now?????? Is this all you have for us tenants….SERIOUSLY!!! Seddon you are a piece of work you and all your little office dorks can suck a fat one!!! While you are all probably sitting behind YOUR MOLD FREE offices, we live in mold and mildew apartments, says so right in this article, bout mold!!! It’s time that we speak to attorney now and even a possible doctor whom would be familiar with the types of sicknesses this mold/mildew can cause. If this is due to the reason of my being sick a lot…..LAWSUIT WILL BE COMING SOON, you can bet you butts on this. You better hope and pray that my sickness is not due to this mold/mildew BUT IF IT IS….You will have a lawsuit and a big one at that on your hands, the state, and Realty Laua, TRUST ME!!! I think this is all a cover up and don’t even think that this Churchill person did a good enough inspection. Go ahead STATE & REALTY LAUA, take your time, do nothing on the situation….BUT ALL I SAY IS BE PREPARED, VERY PREPARED!!! Then us regular hard working folks wonder why our state does not have any money. Well the reason for this is, we have over paid lazy people working in the State and throwing away our hard earned money to people like Seddon and Realty Laua who don’t give a crap about the locals or for the people of Hawaii!!!! Damn, every dog will have it’s day, and I feel ashamed for each and every one of you in that HHFDC office and Realty Laua. YOU ALL ARE TERRIBLE INDIVIDUALS AND HUMAN BEINGS, that goes to the FALEAFINE CLAN as well….!!!!!

  4. Okay mauians the positive is that they at least gave Mr, Dooley the old reports. By reading the reports it doesn’t look like the reports really say anything. This leads to the question of what does the compliance audit done in August say? In that report the state sent spectrum in to specifically look at all the complaints and other stuff. That is the one we need to see! Can they at least tell us what they plan to do based on the report?

  5. Dooley, Okay it’s been 2 weeks now! whats going on with the results. We the tenants of Honokowai Kauhale wants to know!…What are the rates of these people (The New Tenants) are going at?. It looks like the units are slowly getting filled but what about the others that have been badly contaminated and runned down? Why isn’t Seddon having the board of health come and have it checked out? Are we still gonna put these untold tenants in these mold infestation walls? or are they just putting them in and later have them suffer the health issues that most of the tenants are already enduring?..Lawmakers what’s going on? how longer are we going to wait for solutions to happen in our behalf!

    • So as of yesterday I believe we are under new management!!!!!!!!!!!! I heard Lisa and Kepa have been fired and they jave 4 days to move out. I literally seen them packing there crap today. Peace out bee-otch. Go find a new place to live. Her daddy will most likely set them up in state housing for free. I want her to know what its like to struggle and pay rent. This bitch pays no rent and buys fricken cars with her money. karma is a bitch.

  6. Oh My Goodness the shet really and finally hit the fan!..Wow there are changes really happening before our eyes. I heard Kepa threatened the (2) State workers, and another tenant. His sister Maile was involved in this! Don’t you know that you Maile threatened another local and well known family of Lahaina?…What an idot!. They actually have no concept of what Lisa and her family has done to cause all of this problem?. And to all of you supporters think twice of what you thought before because this problem they did is not small?. It’s huge! I won’t be surprise somebody has to serve time for this money stealing shet!…Seddon you are being watched, because Im sure you knew something about this. When push comes to shove, you are gonna save your own ass. I actually seen Lisa sitting outside her apartment looking sad and I actually felt sorry but……again she never seem to have any remorse for those that she hurt and destroyed! So like she said to that one person “KARMA DOES NOT COME BACK TO ME”! Oh! well Lisa it just came. Now you are experiencing how pain feels and hurt and stress. DEAL WITH IT!…It’s out in the Maui News and Hawaii Reporter News! Thank you!….now to clean up this dam mess and move on to a better and clean Environment!

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