WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's latest point-in-time count shows there are nearly 400 homeless people in Wahiawa and other areas close by – and there's no emergency shelter nearby for them to go.
Thanks to help from lawmakers, however, the outreach organization ALEA Bridge will soon be able to build and operate a Resource and Navigation Center somewhere in Wahiawa.
"We want to provide shower and hygiene and laundry facilities, storage and mail box services," executive director Phil Acosta said.
ALEA Bridge recently received $1 million in grant-in-aid funding from the state Legislature to buy property in Wahiawa.
That will let them build and operate a center that includes emergency housing, meaning service providers can offer assistance on the site, instead of on the street.
"It's such a challenge to work with a homeless person, and at the end of the day they go back to the bushes and more than likely they fall of the tracks," ALEA Bridge founder Joe Acosta said.
The non-profit hopes to house 25 people at a time, for a period of up to three months, before moving them into permanent housing.
"Total that I have here in this village is twelve. There's a couple that would like to have a residence," said Wendell Kawilo, who lives under the Karsten Thot bridge.
"In a span of one year, we could service up to a hundred people," said Phil Acosta. "I think that'll make a really big impact in the homeless issue here."
Eventually, Acosta said, ALEA Bridge would like to lease some farm land, where homeless can work and live.
"I'll go out on a limb and say with that ten acres, I could cut the homeless population in half," he said.
ALEA Bridge said it will continue referring Wahiawa homeless to shelters in Waianae, Kalaeloa and Kakaako – until its own shelter is open, hopefully early next year.