Lawmaker: City moving too slowly on project that would help mentally ill on the streets

‘If we reach a critical mass of those things, it’s combustible.’
It's located on Kuwili Street in Iwilei.
It's located on Kuwili Street in Iwilei.
Published: Oct. 8, 2018 at 6:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One day after an officer-involved shooting that left a homeless man dead, state Sen. Josh Green criticized the city for moving too slowly on a project that would help the mentally ill living on the streets.

The Honolulu H-4 project is supposed to provide the homeless everything from mental heath and drug treatment to hygiene and even housing. But two years after the city purchased a building in Iwilei to carry out that vision, it’s still unknown when all of that might come together.

Green, who is running for lieutenant governor, is also the H-4 Board president.

The non-profit is one of several organizations that have submitted proposals to run a large portion of the facility. Green says he’s frustrated the city hasn’t made this a top priority and is taking so long to make a decision.

“I think we’re seeing a surge in violence and I think we’re seeing the ill effects of methamphetamine and long standing mental illness and homelessness,” said Green.

“If we reach a critical mass of those things, it’s combustible. Yesterday was a combustible moment. How much longer are we going to wait? That guy should be getting medications and not have a machete.”

Green says the Honolulu H-4 project could have been up and running months ago.

“We’re there. We’re ready. We’re just waiting for the red tape to be cut,” said Green.

On top of administrative delays, though, Hawaii News Now has learned the build-out is also behind schedule.

“They are running behind in the construction of the hygiene center and also the housing floor,” said H-4 Executive Director Andy Mounthongdy

Mayor Kirk Caldwell, though, says the city is working as fast as possible on the project.

“As he (Green) full well knows procurement is a process and you can’t speed it up," he said. “As much as I’d like it to go faster, because you could end up jeopardizing the whole process and have to start again."

The mayor said the city is close to opening a hygiene center at the site, but didn’t give an exact date.

There is also no word on when the on-site housing or specialized services like drug and mental health treatment will begin.

“I think some patience is needed. Obviously, I wish it was up two years ago,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell says he hopes to award the contract for specialized services by the end of this month.

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