HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the health department confirmed that the soil is safe, Honolulu city officials are working to transform a vacant lot on Sand Island.
Hale Mauliola will provide temporary housing for between 75 and 100 people, and officials hope to have it up and running by the Fall.
"I'm hoping this opportunity allows homeless to avoid disruption and have a more permanent place to live and feel safe," said Honolulu
Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The project is aimed solely toward helping the chronically homeless, people who have been on the street for more than a year and who may be
struggling with addiction or mental illness. The idea is to get them housed and then get them help.
"You have shade, access to food, health care, medical services whatever it might be," said executive director of the Mayor's Housing Office
Officials plan to have 24 hour security and staffing. The people who live here will also have access to shuttles to and from the island. Officials
estimate most folks would live here for approximately 60 days, until a case worker can place them into permanent supportive housing.
“If they need to stay longer to get back on their feet and find the right housing we'll allow them to stay here. We don't want to have
someone move in and go back out on the street again," said Caldwell.
Critics call this a step up from the city's original plan to construct a tent city. But say there are still some concerns.
“The houseless people that we work with are most concerned about have to travel so far to and from jobs and work," said executive director of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.
Another issue has to do with the fact that not all people who are homeless can go there.
"We work with about 500 homeless persons in Kakaako alone, which would probably be not hit at all by the positive impact this proposal
suggests," said Xian.
It will cost about $500,000 to build this facility and about $1.5 million a year to run.
This may not be a permanent fixture on Sand Island. The city only holds the lease on the property for the next three years.