Construction begins to expand popular homeless shelter on Sand I - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Construction begins to expand popular homeless shelter on Sand Island

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Three months ago, Carlynne Musicant moved into the homeless housing complex in Sand Island known as Hale Mauliola. Now, she's just days away from getting a place of her own.

The 69-year-old says she's grateful to have had a roof over her head during one of the most stressful times in her life.

"Once you move in, you're no longer homeless," she says. "You get three meals a day. You get to keep your clothes clean. Get to shower everyday. You have good social workers there."

The complex's reputation for assistance has gotten around: Over the course of the past year, more than 150 people have been housed there. It's rare for any of the shelter's 83 beds to be empty.

"It's one of the most popular. A lot of the homeless clients, when we're out on the street, refer to it as the resort," said Kimo Carvalho, an Institute for Human Services spokesman.

Despite the shelter's success, it's been a struggle to expand.

A construction project that would have increased capacity by 25-percent was supposed to begin in December. Because of financial issues, the work – meant to add six retrofitted containers, enough space to house 21 people – didn't start until earlier this month.   

"We asked for funding from the (City Council), which we never got," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell says a new charter amendment finally allowed the city to expand it's Office of Strategic Housing. That should help projects like the Mauilola expansion get off the ground much more quickly. 

"It shouldn't take us that long in the future," said Caldwell.

Meantime the Institute for Human Services is looking for volunteers. On August 12th they'll help put the finishing touches on the new units.

"We're asking the public to come support us, help us get the beds ready. Get our solar electric hooked up. Get our benches put together, our planter boxes put together. Basically get the facility ready for move in day," said Carvalho.

Carvalho says clients should be able to move into the new units by the end of August.

The city says the next project is to add additional restrooms and showers.  

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