Kailua neighbors vent concerns over Tutu Bert’s respite for ill homeless

Neighbors fear safety could be compromised.

Tutu Bert's Kailua Controversy

KAILUA, HAWAII (HAWAII NEWS NOW) - Neighbors in the Kukunono neighborhood near Castle Medical Center in Kailua have watched the construction of two attached houses that they thought were a monster home.

"It just seems like an awful big house here where one house stood," said neighbor Larry Sabatine.

Neighbors complained, but city inspectors determined construction is approved and permitted.

The Institute for Human Services is leasing the two homes for its Tutu Bert’s House, a respite for medically fragile homeless who’ve been discharged from the hospital and need a temporary place to recover. IHS says the two homes have seven bedrooms on each side and it’s expected to open next month.

"If it was shielded and blocked out maybe and there was a high fence. The families might feel a little safer," said neighbor Janet Kawelo.

"These people who are coming into the house are actually Kailua residents. They are from the community," said Connie Mitchell, IHS executive director.

Neighbor Larry Sabatine says this is not a situation of 'not in my backyard' becaue the community felt blindsighted and didn't get to ask questions or voice concerns.

"Helping that population that's fine, but sometimes drug problems can be a concern, violence issues," said Sabatine.

"We were clueless about what this was," said Kawelo.

Mitchell says Tutu Bert's House will have background checks, one live-in manager and two staffers 24/7. She says the other Tutu Bert's homes in Kalihi and Makiki have had no complaints and help keep homeless off the streets.

“I do think that every local community needs to embrace people who have become homeless,” said Mitchell.

Members of the community are holding a meeting this Sunday at Day Break Church at 5pm.

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