Volunteers Tackle Homelessness Problem One House at a Time

Trevor Yee
Trevor Yee
Susan Hughes
Susan Hughes
Dana Akeo & Kristin Kilburn
Dana Akeo & Kristin Kilburn

NANAKULI (KHNL) -- The number of Hawaii's homeless population has crept up over years. There are now nearly 15,000 homeless across the state, of which two-thirds are on Oahu.

And more than a third of Hawaii's homeless are native Hawaiians. A construction project in Nanakuli helps 14 members of one family have a roof over their heads.

A weekend home project on Oahu, but this one's different. These construction workers are all volunteers, building a house for a homeless native Hawaiian family.

"It just feels good to be helping the Kaneakua family and it's just a lot of fun, you know," said Trevor Yee, one of the volunteers. "It's good exercise and it's a good cause."

Trevor and his teammates put on a fresh coat of paint, and make the house waterproof.

But it doesn't stop there. Volunteers put in some serious time to make sure the outside looks as good as the inside.

More coats of paint, and some nails to keep the foundation sturdy. This seven-bedroom house is all for the Kaneakua Keawemauhili family. They've been living on the beach for 15 years.

"Some of the children when they've come here have said they've never lived in a house before," said Susan Hughes, Habitat for Humanity Leeward Oahu's executive director.

Many of these volunteers work for the same company: General Growth Properties.

"We're doing this with our co-workers," said Kristin Kilburn, one of the other volunteers. "So it's kind of a fun thing to do outside of work."

"Something different from being in the office," added fellow volunteer Dana Akeo.

Something different, and making a difference for a family in need.

"It's not like they're giving us money," said Hughes. "They're give us their time, and they look around, and then there's a house."

With the hard work of volunteers, one family now has a home.

"It's kind of one house at a time, but if we take three generations, that's a lot of people to house," said Hughes. "So, it's an amazing feeling."

Ending the cycle of homelessness in Hawaii, one house at a time, one family at a time.

About 30 volunteers pitched in to help Saturday. The house should be ready to move in by November.