By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Lydia Marfil is appealing her eviction from Hauiki Homes
for failing to pay rent. Above, Marfil talks about her case while
sitting with three of her six children, from left, Bronson Kepano,
6, Krystine Marfil, 11, and Kristelle Marfil, 13.
Mother of six
The state disputes her claimBy Pat Omandam
of improper handling and says
the eviction will stand
This Christmas, all Lydia Marfil wants is to go home.
The 36-year-old mother of six, who has lived in the Hauiki Homes public housing project in Kalihi Valley since 1966 before an eviction earlier this month, now stumbles for answers when her youngest children, ages 3 and 4, ask why they can't go home for the holidays.
"It feels terrible," said Marfil, who is staying with friends and family.
"I've been raised here. I've raised my children here."
Marfil is challenging a Dec. 10 eviction by the state Housing and Community Development Corp. after she failed to make her monthly rental payments this fall for her two-bedroom unit. With the help of volunteers and the Hauiki Residents Association, she filed an appeal of her eviction yesterday in Circuit Court.
Moreover, most of the 46 families in the association have signed a petition urging state housing officials to reinstate her and have begun a fund-raising drive for the $1,500 Marfil owes in back rent. About $700 has already been raised.
"We are asking for the help and prayers of people with compassion, especially for the children, and that the family be reinstated instead of moving them elsewhere," said Sandra K. Kamaunu, association president.
"It was 15 days before Christmas and she got evicted," added S. Olie Palimo'o, association secretary.
Marfil contends her rental problems began after the state this fall implemented its electronic balance transfer system. The system allows welfare recipients to use an ATM card for cash transactions instead of receiving a monthly check.
But in doing so, Marfil said, she wasn't told she would be responsible for making direct rental payments to the housing agency, which in the past was done automatically via direct deposit by the Department of Human Services.
Marfil also said her case wasn't followed up properly because of changes this summer in which the Hawaii Housing Authority dissolved into the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii. Despite housing agency records showing otherwise, Marfil added that she was not notified that her case was being referred for an eviction hearing and was never served the subsequent eviction notice.
State officials say the case was handled properly.
Sharon R. Yamada, said yesterday that a review of the case shows Marfil's eviction will stand.
Miyashiro said the state welfare office did an orientation with its clients about the new banking system before it went on-line. Also, the manager for Hauiki Homes sent a notice to residents about the changes.
"There's a process involved, and it does afford all residents an opportunity to have their situation heard," she said.
Miyashiro said Marfil didn't avail herself of the in-house hearings and appeal process, and filed the appeal.
"What's happened is we've already issued the writ of possession, and the house has reverted to the agency," she said.
No matter what happens, Marfil said she is forever touched by the outpouring of support. "It's a blessing, it really is. I never thought there were people out there that are supportive, but there is."