Hawaii – Last week Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation that enables the state to quickly funnel money toward the facilitation of: (1) rapid construction of a temporary shelter for homeless families; (2) the immediate extension of existing contracts for homeless services; and an immediate increase in funding for programs that promote immediate housing.
State funds of more than $1.3 million were identified this month, paving the way for the emergency proclamation. The monies will serve an additional 1000 homeless individuals between now and July 31, 2016, providing increased funding for homeless services and programs that promote permanent housing for families and the chronically homeless.
The emergency proclamation will also facilitate the construction of a transitional housing facility for homeless families. The facility will be temporary and have a clear sunset date.
The state, city, federal governments and various service providers have worked together to place 158 individuals and 25 families from Kaka‘ako into shelters since the effort began in early August. That’s 54 percent of homeless individuals surveyed in Kaka‘ako in early August and more than 80 percent of the families surveyed.
Meanwhile on Friday, crews were installing converted shipping containers for Honolulu’s latest homeless shelter on a gravel lot on Sand Island. The rooms in the first units were designed for couples and are 73 square feet.
“If they’re living in tents now, the individual units are going to be just as large or larger,” said Chris Sadayasu, asset management administrator for the Honolulu Office of Strategic Development.
The rooms, which were made from new shipping containers, each have a window and a screen door for ventilation. The structures are insulated, and the roofs have white reflective coating, and an awning will provide shade for relaxing outside, said Russ Wozniak, an architect and engineer from Group 70, an architecture firm. The coating and insulation keep the units about 30 degrees cooler than they would otherwise be, Wozniak said.
“The lesson learned is that great things can be accomplished when we all work together. Despite the recent success of enforcement efforts in the Kaka’ako Makai area, homelessness remains a serious issue in every county throughout the state. We plan to replicate the Kaka’ako model as we work to address homelessness in communities across the state,” said Gov. David Ige.
“There’s still much work to do. Hawai‘i has the highest rate of homelessness per capita among the 50 states, with an estimated 465 homeless individuals per 100,000. The alarming increase in unsheltered individuals and families over the past two years is particularly significant on O‘ahu. This proclamation will expedite the state’s plans to help these individuals and families to more quickly transition to permanent housing,” said Scott Morishige, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness.