Developer wants 13 acres of state land to house homeless families

Developer wants 13 acres of state land to house homeless families

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Developer and businessman Duane Kurisu wants to lease 13 acres from the state to build homes for 200 to 300 homeless people.

"What we envision is the look and feel and the community of a plantation camp where people share and help support each other," said Kurisu, who is proposing to do the work through his non-profit, AIO Foundation.

The land between Sand Island and Keehi Lagoon holds a paintball business and homeless campers. Kurisu's village would promote subsistence living with tanks for fish farming.

"We're envisioning fruit-bearing trees, wherever trees are dedicated, especially along Nimitz Highway. We're trying to provide a barrier," he said.

Phase I would have about 24 units for single moms and their kids. Phase II would have 27 units for families. Residents may have to pay some rent and could stay as long as needed. Service providers would help.

"I"m hoping that by building this community, when people get back on their feet they'll make room for other people to come in," Kurisu said.

The state land board has granted Kurisu's request for access to test the soil and survey the site.

Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless czar, said that some mainland communities "have made significant progress in addressing the issue of homelessness." He added, "I think a key factor is having public-private partnerships."

Kurisu doesn't know how much his homeless village would cost, but knows it could help a lot of people. "This project is really about children," he said.

If the land is suitable for construction, he'd like to begin building as soon as next year.

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