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Determination, cooperation key ingredients in making tiny home village for homeless a reality

A master planned community for the homeless made up of tiny homes and shared facilities is now move-in ready in Kalaeloa.
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:02 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A master planned community for the homeless made up of tiny homes and shared facilities is now move-in ready in Kalaeloa.

It’s been two years since ground was broken on Kamaoku. Despite the many challenges brought on by COVID, the donors, volunteers and local leaders behind the project never gave up.

“Back in the day. This (area) was called the morgue,” said state Sen. Kurt Favella.

Nani Medeiros is the executive director of the non-profit HomeAid Hawaii. She said there was “just dirt and rocks and some dead grass” on the site before the project went up.

What was once a homeless camp off Yorktown Street is now almost unrecognizable.

“I just see lots of life here. I hear lots of life,” Medeiros said. “It is thriving now.”

The village is made up of 37 tiny homes, pavilions and other common spaces with shared amenities.

It’s an example of what’s possible when you combine government land, generosity and a group of determined developers.

HomeAid Hawaii raised upwards of $2.5 million worth of contributions including labor and materials to get the project off the ground. While the state chipped in another $1.8 million.

“It brings tears of joy to my eyes,” said Linda Zarchin Oifer.

After hearing about it in the news, Zarching Oifer and her husband sponsored four homes.

“This was just about two years ago,” said David Oifer.

Zarchin Oifer added, “It’s just amazing to think that this community is here now. That it will really make a difference for the people that fill these homes.”

The permanent housing for homeless veterans and civilians also includes on-site resources to help residents get back on their feet.

“Our job is to make sure whoever moves into this will get clinical services, case management services, make sure they’re getting vocational training,” said US Vets Chief Operating Officer Darryl Vincent.

That job training is important. Rent for the single person unit is $500 a month.

Meanwhile, operating costs are estimated to be about $500,000 a year.

“We’re going to try and continue to cut costs, partner with the city and with the state and do our own fundraising,” Vincent said.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, “We should do 12 of these at least.”

He says he’s currently working on finding funding.

“I’ve asked some of the legislators to consider another kauhale bill and this bill would enable us to do them all across the state,” Green said.

The goal is to have some of the first residents move in Dec. 1.

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