HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A dream to convert a 13-acre site between Sand Island and Keehi Lagoon into a village for the homeless took a big step toward becoming a reality Monday.
At a ceremony, Gov. David Ige signed the state land over to the city.
The city is now leasing the parcel to well-known businessman Duane Kurisu's AIO Foundation, which plans to build some 200 tiny homes in the development called Kahauiki Village.
Officials say the village could house up to 800 homeless people.
"That's about 20 people of the homeless on this island," Kurisu said. "This is an important project."
Kahau'iki Village will house people who have gone through transitional shelters and are looking for long-term affordable housing.
"I do look forward to the day when hundreds of families will be able to find shelter here in this area," Ige said.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell added, "We're hoping, as this moves forward, we'll learn from it and then we'll look to duplicate it in other parts of our community."
The city plans to put in up to $4 million in infrastructure for the project, installing water and sewer lines on the parcel that now holds a paintball business.
"The water line is 1,500 lineal feet. The sewer line is only 200 feet. We'll just pump it over the bridge and tie into the existing gravity sewer line," city Department of Facility Maintenance deputy Director Ed Manglallan said.
The units in the project are pre-manufactured and built in Japan. There will be 24 of them in Phase 1.
"We can vary the floor plan between two-bedroom units, and also combining a one-bedroom, and also a studio unit," said Lance Takehara, of Bowers and Kubota Consulting.
Through capital and contributions, Kurisu's foundation will invest about $6 million in construction.
And the homes will rent for about $500.
The goal is to have 100 people living on the property by the middle of next summer.
But, Kurisu said, there's lots of work to be done.
"When we say infrastructure, it's not only the physical infrastructure, but the social and cultural infrastructure is put into place," he said.