City opens hygiene center and public bathrooms for homeless

City opens hygiene center and public bathrooms for homeless

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Eventually, 67 of the 77 units in the Pauahi Hale will be used to house chronically homeless people. The strategy is a key piece in the city's Housing First plan. On Monday two public bathrooms opened on the ground floor of the four-story building. The restrooms will give homeless another option besides the busy bathroom at the Chinatown police substation.

"Those folks who are not fortunate enough to have a home can come and take a shower, use the bathroom, get a clean towel, shave, and get a new lease on life," Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The city, HUD and Mental Health Kokua partnered in the public bathroom project. About 25 tenants live in the four-story building.

"I feel that security should be involved, but to help the homeless is great," tenant Joanna Delsandro said.

Mental Health Kokua's Save Haven will manage the building and the bathrooms, providing towels and toiletries. Patrons will have a 10-minute time limit.

"Ten minutes to take a shower, to use the toilet, to shave, that kind of thing, is really restorative," project director Bill Hanrahan said.

Staffing and bathroom oversight will be paid for out of existing money. The bathrooms are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. A security team will watch them when they open round-the-clock.

"That's so that we can protect against things like drug dealing, prostitution, those kind of very real things that happen in our community," Mental Health Kokua executive director Greg Payton said.

The city spent $204,000 to renovate Pauahi Hale. The project came in about $20,000 under budget. Safe Haven will move its downtown facility and its clients into the building in a few months.

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