Governor Dedicates Leeward Shelter For Homeless

By : Diane Ako

HONOLULU (KHNL)- Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Governor James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr. today officially opened a transitional shelter for homeless families who had been living on beaches and parks along the Leeward Coast of O`ahu. A blessing was held today to welcome the families to their new temporary home.

The new shelter, named Onelau`ena, meaning a place where all necessities of life can be found, is located in a three-story, former military building (previously known as Building 50) at Kalaeloa in Barbers Point. Once completely occupied, the building will accommodate approximately 200 residents. Families started moving into the second- and third-floor units on Oct. 19. As of today, 30 families, totaling approximately 150 individuals, are currently residing at Onelau`ena. Approximately 90 of the residents are children.

The first floor remains under construction and is expected to open in mid-November. "We are providing a safe and secure facility where families with nowhere else to turn can have a safe, supportive place to stay while they work toward gaining self-sufficiency and finding more permanent housing," said Governor Lingle. "Beyond just providing a roof over their heads, we believe it is critically important to work closely with these families to provide supportive services to help them gain skills to move forward."

The families were identified and screened by Wai`anae Community Outreach, which has been contracted by the state Hawai`i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) to operate and manage the facility and provide social services and security. Families with children were given priority to ensure that the children have a safe place to live and a more stable environment to attend school.