CRAIG T. KOJIMA / ckojima@StarBulletin.com
A construction worker toils at the Villages of Maili, a new $14.5 million transitional homeless shelter being built by the state.
Homes for the Homeless
The state is building three shelters for those without a roof over their heads
STORY SUMMARY »
Three homeless shelters under construction now can move toward completion without the threat of being hampered by a Senate bill.
» Villages of Maili: Five apartment buildings offering 80 units, administrative offices, an adult training center and children's day-care center. Can accommodate up to 250 people. Completion expected in fall. Cost: $14.5 million.
» Kahikolu Ohana Hale O Waianae: Built and run by nonprofit Hawaii Coalition of Christian Churches. Emergency shelter expected to offer 72 units in addition to 40 dorm-style beds. Can accommodate up to 250 people. Completion expected in summer. Cost: $16.5 million.
» Building 36: Former military men's quarters to be converted into 71 units for homeless singles and couples, accommodating up to 150 people. Completion expected in summer. Cost: $2.7 million.
Source: Hawaii Department of Accounting & General Services
The timing is long overdue, according to some homeless service providers, but should provide some relief this summer.
The Villages of Maili, the largest transitional shelter to date at about $14.5 million, has been under construction in partnership with Stanford Carr Development since the beginning of this year, with completion estimated by fall.
Another Waianae project, Kahikolu Ohana Hale O Waianae, is nearing an expected completion by this summer.
The state also recently approved construction to begin on the $2.7 million conversion of Building 36, a former military barracks, into a homeless shelter for singles and couples at Kalaeloa. The completion date also is set for summer.
By making emergency proclamations, Gov. Linda Lingle was able to waive usual procedures, including procurement laws and permits, to build a number of homeless shelters at a faster pace than usual.
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Several homeless shelters under construction - nearly halted by a Senate bill - are now on their way to completion.
The Villages of Maili, which has been under construction since the beginning of this year, is expected to be completed this fall. Another project, Kahikolu Ohana Hale O Waianae, to be run by the Hawaii Coalition of Christian Churches, is slated for completion in June.
Yet another homeless shelter in Kalaeloa, a military building to be converted into apartment units, is expected to be done in late summer.
All three projects could accommodate up to 650 individuals, perhaps just in time for the homeless that may be swept from additional Waianae beaches this summer.
"It's long overdue," said Teresa Gonsalves, director of case management at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. "We really need transitional housing. This provides families with at least two years of living independently to help save money, get their credit fixed, and get their life together again."
Transitional shelters are a step above emergency shelters, in that they offer more of an apartment-like setting instead of just a bed, she said.
In addition, the new shelters are offering an array of services, ranging from life skills to job education.
Gonsalves added that those who move from emergency to transitional shelters will free up space for those who need it.
An estimated 2,337 homeless individuals live outside of shelters, according to the state's latest count, though the numbers could be higher. An estimated 1,043 are staying in shelters from Kalaeloa to Waianae.
The shelters were built under emergency proclamations by Gov. Linda Lingle, which allowed her to fast-track their construction.
For the last two years, the state has approved at least $25 million for the construction of emergency and transitional homeless shelters on the Leeward side. Additional funding also has come through private donations.
By declaring the homeless situation in 2006 as a state of emergency, Lingle was able to waive usual procedures to speed up the construction of shelters.
The Next Step shelter in Kakaako was ready in just six days, according to state comptroller and homeless solutions coordinator Russ Saito, Onelauena at Kalaeloa in just four months, and the Waianae Civic Center shelter (Pai'olu Kaiaulu) in five months.
Onelauena, in former military Building 50, was finished two months ahead of schedule in 2006. It holds up to 200 people, including families.
But the construction may have been significantly hampered if Senate Bill 2828, otherwise known as the "emergency powers" bill, had passed.
The bill would have limited the governor's powers to natural disasters and enemy attacks.
Any future work to be completed under emergency powers would have been subject to the usual processes, meaning environmental impact statements, building permits and compliance with land-use laws.
Proponents of the bill said they wanted the state to comply with current building laws, as well as receive community input.
Lingle vetoed the bill, and though there were murmurings of a possible override, the Legislature failed to do so.
However, the Legislature took $1.2 million out of the state budget used for operating the shelters, which she called "shortsighted."
"You can build all the buildings you want, but the real strength of what we're doing is the programs that go with the buildings," said Lingle. "This operating money is very helpful to our efforts and our progress, and we're making good progress."
Saito said though the state did not go through the usual procurement requirements, it did make an effort to get several quotes from various contractors for the shelter projects.
In the case of Villages of Maili, Stanford Carr Development volunteered to build it for no profit, which the state accepted. No other volunteers stepped forward at the time.
The $14.5 million Villages of Maili, the largest-to-date shelter, will offer 80 two-bedroom apartments combined with studios on six acres in Waianae.
The Villages are expected to provide transitional housing for about 250 individuals.
Besides five apartment buildings offering 80 units, the Villages are also expected to include a children's day-care center, adult training center, and administrative offices.
Kahikolu Ohana had been a project in the works, but got a boost under the state's emergency proclamation, according to Saito. It is being overseen by Pastor Wade "Boo" Soares, who for two decades has been taking in homeless in his own home.
Additional funding also came from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
At Kalaeloa, the state is converting a former men's quarters into a shelter for homeless singles and couples that can accommodate up to 150 people in about 71 units.
The $2.7 million project would provide the fourth and last homeless shelter in Kalaeloa to be run by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.
Building 36 was originally slated for the University of Hawaii, but the university did not need it.
The U.S. Navy agreed to an interim lease with the state Hawaii Community Development Authority, which eventually plans to work out a lease with HPHA.
Saito said the contract was awarded to CC Engineering & Construction, with completion expected in another three to four months.
Kalaeloa is already home to several other shelters, including Onemalu, which opened in 2001, Hale Ulu Pono, a shelter for those with mental illnesses, which opened in 2004, and Onelauena - a transitional shelter also in a converted military building - which opened in 2006.