Church determined not to let Waipahu shelter sit empty

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State homeless officials were a no show at a meeting organized to save Lighthouse Outreach Center Thursday morning.  The emergency shelter is set to close next week. But the church that owns it is determined not to let the building sit empty.

For more than a decade Lighthouse Outreach Center provided comfort to Hawaii's homeless.  Now the only emergency shelter between Honolulu and Kalaeloa will close next Friday.

"Until this thing is fixed I can't sleep as a pastor.  I can't.  My heart is for others and my congregation, they agree," said Pastor Joe Hunkin.

Church leaders say new state rules aimed at increasing privacy and housing clients more quickly without additional funding would make it impossible to operate.  Shelter officials say they asked the state for more time but were denied.

"We're closing because we cannot comply with this stuff.  Too much policies," said Pastor Hunkin.

But as one door closes, the pastor and his congregation are moving in a new direction to help their community offering to lease the shelter to someone who can continue their mission.

During the meeting he said he wanted to offer the 1.2 acre property to the state in an attempt to continue homeless services in Waipahu.

"We structured the building already. It's the biggest building in Waipahu.  Come and get it so the homeless is going to get somewhere to stay and eat. One guy asked me what are you going to do with the church Joe? I'm going to do the church under the tree.  That's our heart. People that is my heart and that is the Lighthouse heart," said Pastor Hunkin.

We took the pastor's offer to Governor Ige.  He was open to the idea.

"We are working with the service providers so if service providers wanted to look at that facility they could," said Gov. Ige.

Meantime social workers are scrambling to place the 45 people still staying at Lighthouse. The majority of those people are families.

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