Despite shortage of beds for Big Island’s homeless men, shelter’s expansion hits red tape

Despite shortage of beds for Big Island’s homeless men, shelter’s expansion hits red tape

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you’re a man and end up homeless on Hawaii Island, many times living out in the open is your only choice.

There are only two shelters that’ll accept men. Both run on a waitlist because they’re always full.

One of those programs is headed up by Carlos Palma.

“This is really an issue for all of us,” he said.

Right now, expanding the capacity of the Hawaii Island Home for Recovery is his no. 1 priority.

The plan is to add 12 studio apartments on the back side of the property. It’s permanent housing that the island desperately needs.

But the addition of those extra units means they’ll have to install sprinklers in all of their buildings.

Palma said that could cost $200,000 ― extra money the shelter just doesn’t have.

“We are in the designing phase right now. We are fronting the cost to get to this point,” said Palma.

“We just need the people to grow a conscious and help us together. The legislators and those with the capacity to generate resources so programs like ours and many others around the state get funding."

Darrel Aki is among those helped by the shelter.

He fell into homelessness after a cancer diagnosis.

Aki, who was living in Kona at the time, was forced to stop working and couldn’t pay his bills.

After he lost his home, living on the street thrust the 63-year-old into a deep depression that nearly claimed his life.

“I went into suicidal thoughts because I did not want to see myself out there being a burden to society," he said.

Today, Aki in remission and has a place of his own.

He credits the staff at Hawaii Island Home for Recovery.

“It gave me a place where I could be calm, figure things out. And it also brought me the support I didn’t know I had,” said Aki. “The more space they get. The less will be out there on the street.”

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