Rents Up and Down at State-Owned Maui Housing Complex

Honokowai Kauhale on Maui
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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


  1. Saw your post on the housing authority boss quitting Lanakila. Think the HHFDC board will wake up the staff there to make some changes or they will clean house too? Wonder if thqat story has been keeping Mr. Dooley from following up on the Honokowai story? I hope that now that he got it out of the way he will get going on the Mauians problems again. It is no officially the end of the month and not a word from the state. Lanakila did they come out and talk to the folks at Honolowai or are they all still hiding?

  2. Murray! did you read the Maui News this morning it’s headlines front page. Holy tolido, the shet is hitting the fan. Amazing how these Faleafine’s are in total denial. Robert Faleafini is covering up. According to the papers the audit was called and now it’s done, I’m so wanting to know the outcome of it. I’m sure that misused of monies were a factor. Shet were are already getting calls from Lahaina residence that’s very upset about the lies Lisa has told them on the long wait list. The shet is flying now with upset callers. THANKYOU MAUI NEWS FOR BRINGING THE TRUTH TO THE PUBLIC ESPECIALLY LAHAINA RESIDENCE……MAHALO:)

  3. Murray-No nobody from the HHFDC came by to speak with the tenants at all, No letters were generated to the tenants from Karen Seddon or her piers nothing!. Infact nobody else came to see the place exept for Lois Churchill herself. I think Seddon is hiding from all of this. Mr. Dooley hasn’t updated another story yet?. Could be busy with that other case with The Housing Authorities. Hope we get some answers soon. Man the retaliation continues to go on. Maybe more to come now that the Maui News have exposed them. What you think?

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