A new project to help homeless families settle into long-term, affordable housing broke ground Tuesday, following a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony.
The 11-acre site along Nimitz Highway near Keehi Lagoon currently hosts a paintball operation, but it will soon be transformed into Kahauiki Village.
Businessman Duane Kurisu said it will be reminiscent of the plantation-style village in which his family first set down roots in Hawaii.
"Our houses may have looked like they were half-broken down, but we always had food on the table and everyone was on the same boat and we were all able to live with dignity and that's what we're trying to replicate," Kurisu said.
The state owns the land, but transferred it to the city which in turn leased the property to AIO Foundation for 10 years at $1 per year.
The total project will consist of 150 modular homes.
The project's first phase will build 18 two-bedroom units with rent at $900 per month.
Twelve one-bedroom units will go for $725 per month.
Water, sewer, electricity, gas, WiFi and community association dues will all be included.
There will also be an onsite preschool and daycare, vegetable gardens, fruit trees and fish farms.
Institute for Human Services will be screening and selecting families based on their progress while in transitional housing.
"This is much, much more than a homeless solution," said IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell. "It's really about renewing our social compact with families that are willing to work and really be able to make a living here."
State and city officials who have been struggling with chronic homelessness all around the site were among those celebrating the project's groundbreaking.
"I think emergency shelters are fine for short term, but what we really need is homes for our people," said Gov. David Ige.
Once the dust settles, Kurisu hopes the project will prove that private and public sectors working together can better tackle Hawaii's persistent homeless crisis.
Families are expected to move into Kahauiki Village early December.