DHHL: Broken Promises, Broken Trust

Aloha mai kakou,

After reading this article published today in the Garden Island Newspaper, my first thought was, "wow, this really f***ing sucks!" My second thought was, "I hate to say I told you so." After hearing what happened with contractors here on Kaua'i at the new Kekaha Hawaiian Homes Site, and hearing multiple horror stories from roofing, to drywall, to framing, to plumbing problems with the contractor's shoddy building materials and services there in Kekaha, I'm not fully surprised that's it's now happening elsewhere.

Could Hawaiian Homes really be cutting costs and hiring the lowest of the barrel bidding contractors to do these homes? Weren't they building cracker box houses on Hawaiian Homes since the 1970's?

I think a man named Kahale Smith set torch to himself in one of those same kind of houses here in Anahola when they refused to have it repaired and instead evicted him from his already falling apart house.

Now we are finding out about a dozen more homes of people who have invested a lot of time and money into, now laying in shambles because of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands mistakes in hiring unreliable contracting services for good Kanaka Maoli families in good "Hawaiian" Homes.

I would love other kanaka's mana'o on how they feel when we rely on a department run by a "state" that doesn't know how to hire contractors that we can feel fully reliable in completing the job, let alone doing the job right.

Maybe we just need to stop relying on fraudulent department's that were created by a "state" to kill more kanaka maoli waiting on a list than are actually being provided land and shelter. Wasting millions of dollars in taxpayer's and homeowner's money in the process of some easily correctable mistakes.

My mana'o is simple, it's our million's of dollars that's paying them to make mistakes like this, why should we let them continue in false "trust?"

Don't. It's not worth our time. I'm sure there's lots of kanaka who own hundreds of homes out there, they just don't realize it yet.

I know of some great Kanaka Maoli Hawai'i Properties on Kaua'i that may be up for sale soon now that they can potentially have Kanaka lean's and foreclosures upon them in the fraudulent "state." There's got to be more than a dozen homes, and most are beach front property.

Any inquirer's?

Makes ya think doesn't it? Just a lil' bit? *raises eyebrow*

That's my spiel for the day folks. A hui hou. Mahalo for listening.

Hale Mawae
Eo Lono!

Partially Finished Homes Are Gone

DHHL demolished them after they were damaged by rain

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has demolished a dozen partially built Hilo homes worth a total of more than $1 million in recent weeks because the buildings sat exposed in the rain after the developer went bankrupt, stopping all construction last year.

Lloyd Yonenaka, spokesman for the Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands, said the houses were contaminated with mold from sitting vacant and open for so long. The lessees were offered the choice of having the mold cleaned out or tearing the buildings down and starting over, and all chose to start over, he said.

Julia Ke, whose unfinished three-bedroom house was among those torn down, said she couldn't bear to watch the demolition crews work.

"I refused to go, I just didn't want to go and see it," she said. "It's just so sad."

Ke has been on the Hawaiian Homes list for more than 20 years, and was finally awarded a Kaumana lot where she was building the home with her longtime girlfriend, Laura Henderson.

"It was the happiest day of my life when we were selected, and to have this happen is just terrible," Ke said.

The couple had expected to move into the new home by late last year, but all work on the house stopped in November after builder Fredco Inc. and developer Menehune Development Co. ran into financial difficulties, and eventually went bankrupt.

Much of the structural work on Ke and Henderson's house was done, but the unfinished roof consisted of bare sheets of plywood and other lumber, and water poured in all winter. Water ponded on the floor and stayed there, the floor warped, and the unfinished roof began to sag.

Now, the lot in Kaumana has been cleared, and a new contractor is preparing to start over.

Fredco and Menehune are both owned by Big Island developer Fred Yamashiro, who has filed for personal bankruptcy. Yonenaka said he does not know how much the collapse of the two companies has cost Hawaiian Homes, but acknowledged the dozen Kaumana homes alone were worth more than $1 million in materials and labor.

Hawaiian Homes is suing O'ahu construction bonding company Hardware Hawaii, alleging the company was responsible for completing 79 homes for Native Hawaiians on three islands in the event Fredco and Menehune failed. Hardware Hawaii notified Hawaiian Homes on Feb. 22 it did not have the money to complete the homes, according to the lawsuit.

Yonenaka said it was urgent that construction resume on the Kaumana homes after the bankruptcy so the units would not be further damaged by the weather, but said delays by Hardware Hawaii made that impossible. The state will try to recoup losses from the bonding company, he said.

"While there is money that is being expended, the final amount will depend obviously in great part on our litigation with Hardware Hawaii," he said.

Yonenaka said the department expects the demolition of the 12 unfinished homes will cost about $300,000. Six of the homes were more than half finished, and the other six were 15 to 20 percent finished, he said.

A PROMISE TO LESSEES

Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Kane has said the agency has an obligation to the lessees because Hawaiian Homes required the lessees to use Fredco as their contractor in an effort to create economies of scale for the development of the homes on scattered lots on Kaua'i, Lana'i and the Big Island.

Yamashiro's companies were supposed to develop 133 houses, including 79 bonded by Hardware Hawaii.

Kane has pledged to make sure the bonded homes are properly completed for the original prices the lessees agreed to in their contracts with Fredco, which had base prices ranging from $160,000 to $260,000.

To make that happen, Hawaiian Homes has taken some extraordinary steps, including providing a total of about $100,000 in cash assistance to lessees on the three islands who encountered financing hardships because they were forced to pay extra costs when completion of their homes was delayed.

Later the department approached the lessees' banks and bought 43 construction loans on the bonded units for $4.38 million so the lessees would not have to make mortgage payments while they waited for their homes to be finished. The department plans to shift those loans back to private banks later.

Henderson said Hawaiian Homes also repaid Ke for the interest she paid on the construction loan on the unfinished Kaumana house that was torn down.

Now, the department has pledged to rebuild the demolished houses for the same prices the lessees originally agreed to pay, which for Ke and Henderson was about $170,000.

"I think they're doing everything possible to make it pono for everyone," Henderson said. "I think that's the right thing, because I don't think any of us can take much more."

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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