City sets up HONU center to triage homeless people in Waipahu

City sets up HONU center to triage homeless people in Waipahu

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three large Inflatable tents at Waipahu Cultural Garden Park make up the first mobile homeless center on Oahu.

The pilot program is called the Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons project or HONU.

The Honolulu Police Department got this idea rolling.

“We are going to provide a lot of intensive outreach and we are going to surround it with intensive enforcement. If we are going to use your city park we want to make sure we give something back,” HPD Capt. Mike Lambert said.

At the site social service agencies will work with homeless individuals and families to try to quickly move them into more permanent housing.

“We’re going to go into communities and help to address the needs of people who are struggling there, and as soon as w’ere ready to go we will have the next community to go to.” said Rebecca Soon, deputy director of the city’s Department of Community Services.

Park rules will be lifted for overnight stays in the Waipahu park so homeless can stay there overnight. Officers will provide round-the-clock security.

"We are all struggling with this crisis together and the whole neighborhood should have to share in it," Lambert said.

Each 400-square-foot tent can house up to about ten people, and kennels will be provided for pets.

"While they are there in the HONU they'll have access to food. They'll have access to showering and restroom facilities. They'll have a place to store their items," Soon said.

The city believes the mobile center can be effective. It budgeted $6 million to cover costs for a three-year project.

Lambert said it gives police officers a valuable tool to help the homeless they encounter.

“If we’re going to tell people they you can’t be in the park we need to make sure we have an available option for them,” he said.

After 90 days in Waipahu, HONU will move to another city-owned park.

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