This church is housing the homeless ― and cultivating hope ― on a Waianae farm

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:40 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:34 PM HST
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WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s a farm in Waianae that isn’t your typical agriculture operation. It’s run by a church whose calling is housing Hawaii’s homeless and cultivating hope.

“You guys hungry?” asked Tavia Orita, as she hand-fed several goats at the farm on a recent day. “They’re picky goats.”

For the Oahu woman, life is finally looking up. She’s working, has a roof over her head and for the first time in a long time is optimistic about the future.

“Over here is a blessing,” Orita said. “We’re safe here. Our things are safe here.”

For years, Waianae Cedar Farm has provided people refuge from the street.

Headed up by Hawaii Cedar Church, it started as place folks could pitch a tent in exchange for working on the farm. But through donations the church’s vision evolved.

Residents now sleep in 8-by-10-foot sheds.

“It came with a bed and a dresser,” said Orita. “Rent is $120 a month for couples but you can work it off on the farm.”

Forty-three of the farm’s 51 units are currently occupied. Residents are from across Oahu.

It’s a mission led by the church’s pastor, who spent his childhood homeless in Korea.

“I know how hard it is for homeless out there,” said Duk Hwan Kim. “Once I grew up. I had enough to survive, then I share with all other people.”

On Thursday, Kim was recognized by the state for his work.

“They have not gotten one red cent from either the state or the county in doing this beautiful endeavor to reduce homelessness in Hawaii so hopefully we can change that,” said Rep. John Mizuno.

The church is currently fundraising, with plans of constructing 50 more sheds by the end of the year.

“They are clearly on a journey that can help individuals,” said Anton Krucky, executive director of Honolulu Office of Housing and Homelessness.

“It’s not just about housing for them. They’re learning to do work products. They are bringing the person’s soul along and I think that should truly be appreciated.”

Orita says being at the farm has helped her start rebuilding her life and made her realize the best is yet to come.

“To have someone believing in you and just give you a chance like Pastor has done for all of us it’s a blessing,” she said.

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