Legislators pan governor’s $17M plan for homeless ‘ohana zones’

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Dec. 15, 2018 at 10:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just ahead of a deadline, the governor on Friday announced plans to spend millions of dollars on so-called “ohana zones” for Oahu and Big Island homeless residents.

But legislators who set aside $30 million for the special zones say the governor isn’t doing enough.

The governor’s plan would use only $17 million of the amount lawmakers authorized — and falls far short of what they hoped he would build.

Gov. David Ige, though, said the state’s plan is ambitious and comprehensive.

“Here on the island of Oahu, we’ll be partnering with the City & County of Honolulu to establish three separate ohana zones that will add at least 60 new units at three different sites," he said.

Under the the plan, non-profit Catholic Charities will operate an 80-unit facility in Leeward Oahu called “Villages of Maili." Most of the units will be permanent supportive housing. There will also be an assessment center for homeless.

Catholic Charities hopes to serve an estimated 340 homeless people per year.

Another program will be located on the campus of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Windward Oahu.

The state wants to expand its existing youth shelter, add on-site medical services and expand outreach services to homeless youth.

The plan also includes renovations to existing shelter facilities on two state-owned shelters at Kalaeloa.

“Now you’re going to see extra capacity when someone is really challenged with drug addition, with mental illness, and who’s homeless," said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

But legislative leaders say it’s not enough, and they’re disappointed in the governor’s plan.

“It looks like some of the projects are just the re-purposing of already existing beds," House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti told Hawaii News Now.

"We really wanted to have an expansion of the number of people served. So the Legislature is going to take a careful look at the specific proposals by the Governor’s Office. Again, we wanted to add bed space. Not simply just maintain what’s already there.”

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