HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a community in crisis. Homeless in Iwilei have hijacked many of the public walkways.
"We have to hose down the sidewalk every single morning to clear out the urine and feces from the campers who are camping overnight," said Larry Heim.
Heim is the President of HONBLUE, Inc. The company's been in the neighborhood 30 years. He says lately his biggest concern is the safety of his 140 employees.
"We have had recently several car break-ins. Several intrusions into some of the businesses in the immediate area. We did have an employee who was assaulted," said Heim.
Wednesday, word of a new homeless housing facility came as welcome news. The old Malihini Sportswear building in Iwilei is being converted into the state's first full service hygiene center for the homeless.
"We're just glad it's a starting point," said Heim.
Council member Joey Manahan came up with the idea for his district after touring a hygiene center in Seattle. The first floor will be based on that concept equipped with restrooms, showers and a laundry room.
"We want to extend the hours probably early morning before normal working hours through the evening like 8 or 10 at night so that those who are working or have need came come also," said Barbara Yamashita, Deputy Director of the Department of Community Services.
Upstairs the plan is to have outreach workers connect folks with things like jobs, health care and other services. The top two floors will be converted into 35 Permanent Supportive Housing units.
Some Iwilei residents hope the center will alleviate what's happening on the streets.
"I couldn't get down the sidewalk just now. What I am hoping for is to be able to get from point A to point B without having to go around people," said Karen Carlen.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell wasn't comfortable giving a time line on exactly when then facility will open. The city expects renovations to cost $2 million and then another $1 million dollars a year to run the place.
Officials say they hope to take this model and duplicate it in other communities across Oahu.