City announces it will not convert Hilo Hattie on Nimitz Hwy. into homeless shelter

City announces it will not convert Hilo Hattie on Nimitz Hwy. into homeless shelter
Homeless tents along Kapalama canal
Homeless tents along Kapalama canal

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a press conference Tuesday afternoon officials quashed the idea of buying Hilo Hattie.  They say the math doesn't add up. Although the city could afford to purchase the property, it couldn't afford to run the place.

"The annual operating cost of the facility would be estimated 1.8 million dollars and that would continue over 20 years.  Funding for such an expensive operating site is currently not in the  budget," said Honolulu's Managing Director Roy Amemiya.

Amemiya said that figure doesn't even include the cost of support services.

'Currently people are saying it could cost upwards of 20-thousand  for case management for each individual," said Amemiya.

Amemiya added a one stop homeless shelter that would house up to 800 people also doesn't align with the city's plan of scattered sites.

"Three hundred people in Kakaako are already being considered too many for HPD and they would like to break that encampment up.  To put 800 in a single place probably doesn't make too much sense," said Amemiya.

Meantime the search continues from properties that can be used to house homeless on Oahu.

"We are relying on the state to help us identify sites.  We also asked the federal government to see whether or not the military can provide some things like tents, bathrooms and other types of facilities," said Amemiya.

Following the announcement, Councilmember Joey Manahan provided the following statement to Hawaii News Now:

The Hilo Hattie site would have been able to provide much needed temporary housing, social and medical services to assist homeless individuals and families. There are no other sites in the district where we can quickly house a significant amount of homeless families and children. We spend just as much if not more to sweep these families around the island when we could be providing them with housing. Hilo Hattie is worth it.

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