Leeward Oahu homeless shelter that can house 80 families set to close at end of month

Leeward Oahu homeless shelter that can house 80 families set to close at end of month

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Leeward Oahu homeless shelter that can house 80 families will close its doors permanently at the end of the month.

Staff at Ulu Ke Kukui say it’s almost always at capacity. On average case managers connect close to 100 families with permanent housing every year.

“This place has been good for us homeless people who have nowhere to go,” said Amelia Figueroa.

Figueroa and her family spent the better part of a year there. They moved into one of the temporary homes after spending months living out of a car in Waipahu.

“When I heard it was going to close I was like oh! It was a bummer for me,” said Figueroa.

For the past decade the property has been been leased from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to be used as a transitional housing program for homeless families.

The lease is set to expire next month.

The shelter’s executive director says it’s a part of the deal they’ve known about since the beginning.

“It’s hard to let go. But it’s right to let go.” said Tom McDonald.

Over the past six months staff has moved all 80 families out of the complex and into places of their own.

According to the this year’s point in time county homelessness on the Waianae Coast shot up more than 17-percent. We asked the Governor’s homeless coordinator if he had any concerns about the closure but didn’t get a response to the question.

However, McDonald told us he doesn’t believe it’s going to have a negative impact on the community.

“We need to emphasize permanent housing in lieu of more temporary solutions,” said McDonald. "We won’t solve homelessness by building more shelters. We’ll solve homeless by getting the people who need it the most into permanent housing units that we already have.

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands says isn’t sure yet what it’s going to do with the land or the apartments.

Meantime Figueroa has an idea.

“The state of Hawaii should make it permanent housing,” said Figueroa. “With all the same supports that they have here today. It would be good for the families and those who are in need.”

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