This rendering of the Maili transitional housing complex shows the receiving home. CLICK FOR LARGE
$1 million gift to help build emergency kids' shelter
First children's shelter is planned for Waianae
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A donation of more than $1 million will allow the state to build a first-ever emergency shelter for children, officials said.
"We're referring to it as a 'receiving home' for abused and neglected children on the Waianae Coast," said Kaulana Park, the governor's coordinator for homeless solutions on the Leeward Coast. "It'll serve as a temporary facility for children."
The receiving home, which will be built on the property of a transitional housing village in Maili, will house about 15 children over 30 to 45 days and have study rooms, living rooms and offices.
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State officials are planning a children's emergency shelter in Waianae -- the first such shelter for children in the state.
Officials say the shelter will provide stability for the children while giving caseworkers time to investigate their situation and find more permanent placement, either with family or other foster homes.
Details of the state's first emergency shelter for children:
Location: on the planned Maili transitional housing complex off St. Johns Road.
Projected opening: late 2008
Structure: a single-level building with living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry room, study room and office space.
Capacity: about 15 beds in an open sleeping area.
Age requirement: no minimum, up to age 18.
Services: help with homework, counseling and medical screening, with priority given to children from the Waianae Coast.
Kaulana Park, the governor's coordinator for homeless issues on the Leeward coast, said the home will have at least 15 beds where children can be housed for 30 to 45 days.
Developer Michael Wood is making the shelter possible by pledging $1 million to build the shelter and $400,000 a year for the next 20 years to keep it running, Park said.
Wood said he and his wife became involved in the project because they wanted to address a need in the community.
"These are children at risk; that's why we're doing it," said Wood, president of M W Group Ltd., a development company. "We're very pleased that the state is going to work with us and help us."
Wood said it's too early to discuss details of the project.
"We're far from there yet," he said. "It is our plan to make a contribution, but we have not completed our agreements. There's a whole lot of things to move forward."
The shelter will be built on the same parcel as a planned Maili transitional village for the homeless, but will be separate from the village, Park said.
Lillian Koller, the director of the state Department of Human Services, said in an e-mail that Waianae Coast residents "have long expressed the need for a community-based transition house that provides a safe and supportive environment for children when they are first removed from their parents."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaulana Park showed off plans Thursday for the transitional housing complex in Maili. The first phase is 6 acres of affordable rentals, with a community center and a receiving home. The rest of the development, covering 20 acres, will be added later. CLICK FOR LARGE
DHS officials wanted the first receiving home in Waianae because of the large number of foster children there.
According to DHS statistics, about 25 percent of Oahu's foster children are from Waianae, while 80 percent of foster children in Waianae have a history of homelessness.
In Waianae, the Waianae neighborhood board voiced its support of the home at a recent meeting.
Patty Teruya, chairwoman of the board, said she supports the home because it will keep foster children at home in Waianae.
However, at a recent board meeting, about 30 residents from the Sea Country community in Maili opposed both the foster home and the larger transitional village because they fear the shelters would lower property values.
"They just don't want it in their back yard," she said. "We're kind of torn. We want to make it work for everybody."
The receiving home will have its own security, food and programs to be handled by a contracted provider who has yet to be named, Park said.