Homeless Receives More Help

Melissa Duncan
Melissa Duncan
Doran Porter
Doran Porter

HONOLULU (KHNL)- There's more hope for Oahu's homeless.

A shelter in Waianae gets ready to open its doors and another in Kakaako will remain open longer than expected.

Vanesa Lopes and Melissa Duncan live at the Next Step shelter in Kakaako.

"I'd rather be there than out here, freezing in the cold at nighttime," said Duncan.

They're thankful they'll have the shelter for a little longer.

"Our current contract is set to expire March 31. So the state has agreed to work with us to extend that through July 31," said Doran Porter, executive director of the Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance.

After that, he says the group will submit a request to leave the shelter open, possibly through next year. It opened last May and houses nearly 300 people.

"So it's good to give us opportunities to go out and look for jobs and look for housing," said Duncan.

The shelter must leave its location next year. That's where the Office of Hawaiian Affairs plans to begin building a native Hawaiian cultural center and headquarters in 2008.

In Waianae, more help is on the way for the homeless. The shelter at the Waianae Civic Center opens on Thursday. It'll welcome five families a week.

"A lot of these people are the working poor, they're folks who just aren't making enough income to make ends meet," said Porter.

"Like us we were both working, we were paying $1,500 in rent, the rent went up to almost $2,000 and it left us homeless," said Duncan.

But she hopes shelters like this, will help change her situation.