State concerns lead homeless shelter to suspend director


POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009

The board of directors of a state-supported Waianae homeless shelter has temporarily removed the executive director after a state review of its operation.

The Rev. Wade “;Boo”; Soares is on administrative leave effective today as head of the Kahikolu Ohana Hale o Waianae, a $16 million, 72-unit complex which opened in August. He was the moving force in the faith-based initiative that led to its completion.

State Comptroller Russ Saito, state homeless solutions coordinator, said the state informed the Hawaii Coalition of Christian Churches board April 1 that it was failing to meet numerous administrative, fiscal and case management standards set in its contract with the state.

“;We asked the board to consider putting him on administrative leave,”; said Saito. “;They agreed.”;

Saito said the Hawaii Public Housing Authority is continuing its examination of the facility management while other agencies are investigating multiple allegations about the operation. Complaints have been made by former tenants and social workers that Soares has imposed his Christian faith on residents and in decision-making about who will be accepted as tenants.

“;I emphasize they are just allegations,”; said Saito.

The housing project was the brainchild of Soares, pastor of the 120-member Powerhouse church. He began five years ago to organize the efforts of several churches and other agencies helping homeless people on the Leeward Coast.

At the August opening, Soares was credited by other community members as the leader of the project. The Hawaii Coalition of Churches obtained a 30-year lease for the state land near Waianae Intermediate School, and the shelter was built with $13.5 million in state grants and $3 million from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Coalition board member Harry Simons said “;decisions will be made next week”; but otherwise declined to discuss issues concerning the shelter. Bishop Soara Tupua, chairman of the board, could not be reached for comment. The board has until April 27 to respond to the compliance review.

Soares, reached at the shelter, said he will be back in two months. He said that “;adjustments have been made in the intake process; it's slower”; in response to the state compliance review. The facility currently has about a 60 percent occupancy rate, he said.

“;I don't want to comment on the allegations and the negativity,”; said the pastor. “;We measure success by the people we are serving. Lives are being changed, residents are going forward.”;