Water cut to Waianae homeless shelter thanks to records confusion

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After spending 16 years on the beach, Joyce Kauhane accepted shelter 11 months ago.

In exchange for working a few hours a week on Cedar Farm in Waianae, Hawaii Cedar Church allows her and her dog to stay while getting back on her feet.

"Here I'm safe. I don't have to worry about my things. I can go and come back and it'll all be here," Kauhane said.

But two days ago, things got a lot harder for Kauhane and the 28 other residents of the shelter when the Board of Water Supply shut off their water.

BWS said no one had paid the bill for water to the shelter and its farm in over a year.

Turns out, the previous owner of the parcel had been paying water for the property until last year and then had suddenly stopped.

The same day the water was shut off, Pastor Duk Whan Kim got a bill for nearly $7,000. His congregation bought the four-acre parcel in 2012.

But for some reason the previous owner didn't tell the utility about the sale and just kept paying the water bill.

"Bills were paid up until September 2015, so we had no reason to think there had been any changes in the circumstances," said Kathleen Pahinui, Board of Water Supply spokeswoman.

Pahinui says the agency spent the last year trying to collect from the prior property owner.

Now that it knows who's responsible, the board said water would be restored tonight.

But the pastor is worried how his congregation is going to come up with the money that's owed and has called on the community for help.

"We are at our wits end. We need the public's help. We're not asking for Christmas presents, we just need water for the homeless and their farm," said state Rep. John Mizuno.

Residents at the shelter get a 10-by-10 space to pitch a tent, and everyone has access to a kitchen, bathrooms and laundry.

While the water was out, Kauhane said, residents had to go to the beach to get drinking and cooking water.

To make a donation to help cover the cost of the water bill, call Liz at 462-6152.

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