Hawaiian Homes Commission to end monthly leases


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LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The Hawaiian Homes Commission has unanimously voted to end existing month-to-month land leases as it takes steps to overhaul a program accused of mismanagement and lax oversight.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday (http://goo.gl/cu4uau ) that the commission that oversees the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands plans to give new monthly permits to tenants who are complying with the terms of their rental agreements. The current short-term leases have drawn criticism in part because the month-to-month leases, which are deeply discounted, were meant to be temporary, but most have become long-term.

The new permits will be in place up to one year, while the department reworks the program’s rules.

The changes come after the newspaper reported widespread problems with the program, including mismanagement and selective enforcement.

Hawaiian Home Lands Deputy Director Darrell Young says it found nearly 20 percent of roughly 180 revocable-permit parcels statewide were not meeting the terms of agreements. Among the violations were unpaid rent and improper land use.

The commission met Tuesday on Kauai and approved the changes 7-0.

The plan calls for tenants who are violating agreements to have 30 days to correct problems or face having the land taken from them.

Blossom Feiteria, president of the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, said Native Hawaiian beneficiaries didn’t have sufficient opportunity to help create the plan to fix the program.

Hawaiian Home Lands officials say beneficiaries will be consulted and public hearings will be held across the state before any permanent changes are made.

The department and its 203,000-acre land trust were established to get Native Hawaiians on homestead lots.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com