Monday, July 5, 1999

Courtesy of Hawaii Housing Authority
This is a sketch of the proposed $10 million Kuhio Park
Terrace Community Resource Center.

Community resource
center inspiring hope

Some residents of state housing
projects already are looking forward
to programs it will offer

By Alisa LaVelle


It will be nestled between the high-rise towers of the state's largest and oldest low-income housing project.

And it is intended to help tenants there find ways to get off welfare or move out of the project.

Construction of the $10 million Kuhio Park Terrace Community Resource Center is more than a year away. But the idea already is attractive to 20-year-old Doreen Asugar, who lives in the Kuhio Homes low-rises and says she will take advantage of job training and programs for children the center will house.

"I think it would be useful for my daughter going to kindergarten this year," Asugar said.

The center is being planned by the Housing and Community Development Corp., which runs Kuhio Park Terrace.

It will include a community building, family education building and a recreation building for teens, and occupy 5.74 acres of the 22-acre Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes complex.

The center will provide job training, parental, domestic violence and drug abuse education, as well as business assistance, said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, one of the authors of the bill funding the project.

The housing agency hopes to start construction in October 2000 and finish by June 2001.

It received $10 million in grants targeted at helping American Samoans and other Pacific islanders. A $2 million economic development initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will go mostly to cover administrative, planning, design and contingency costs. The remainder, from the U.S. Labor Department, will cover the bulk of construction and site work costs.

For the largest provider of services at the housing project now, it will mean adjustment.

Parent and Children Together, or PACT, has been serving residents for 30 years. It provides programs that help parents with child care, and organizes teen activities and support services, like business planning workshops.

The programs might be displaced because of additional costs and constraints on its programs, said Garret Kawamura, PACT deputy director of operations.

With a new facility, PACT might have to relocate or seek additional funding to handle higher costs. PACT owns two buildings at Kuhio Park Terrace that houses its office, Headstart and teen programs. Other programs operate out of vacant apartment units.

PACT has been working with state planners and has expressed its concerns.

"We've shared with them about how fortunate we are to provide services at minimal operating costs," Kawamura said.

State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Palama, Alewa Heights) said the community asked for the center. She said residents are working hard to improve both themselves and the housing project, and come together as a community.

One low-rise resident, Al Edwards, 27, said he thinks nobody would use the center and that other residents will trash it. "It's a waste of time," Edwards said. "I'm not going to use it."

The plans also include a baseball field, a softball field, a pavilion, a community garden and a picnic area.

Amata Williams, 42, a 10-year resident of Kuhio Home low-rises, said she thought the center was good for the community, especially those growing up in low-income housing.

Williams has three daughters and three sons. Her 7-year-old daughter, January, said she likes baseball and would use the fields.

Resident Henry Asugar said he is going to make sure his children and grandchildren go if the center is built as planned.

"I am looking forward to it because it sounds like a good idea," said Asugar.

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