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Tents go up to house homeless people with COVID as shelters run out of quarantine space

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 4:34 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tents are going up to house homeless people with COVID as shelters run out of space for them to quarantine.

The state-sponsored quarantine hotel program ended two weeks ago so shelters and the city are trying to catch up with the need.

One after the other Friday morning three large tents were unloaded, inflated and secured.

“We’re at the new temporary quarantine site for homeless individuals,” said Institute for Human Services Director of Community Relations Jill Wright.

It’s located just across the parking lot from an existing homeless shelter made up of shipping containers on Sand Island.

Formerly, Wright said, “There were tons of COVID hotels for in Waikiki.”

But access to the majority of those rooms ended Dec. 31 when the state turned over the responsibility for the sites to the counties.

Right now, the Harbor Arms Apartment Hotel in Aiea is the only quarantine facility on the entire island.

“It’s come in very handy, particularly for hospitalized patients with COVID who maybe can’t go home or can’t go back to the UH dorms.”said Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department. Ireland said space is extremely limited. The complex has a total of 30 units.

“It’s been running about 90 to 100% full since then,” Ireland said. “So hence the need for this other temporary quarantine facility.”

The tents are on loan from the Honolulu Police Department and provide enough space for up to 24 people Shelter officials say they don’t intend to use the site for families.

“It would be more for some of the single individuals staying at different sites,” Wright said.

Meanwhile, the city confirms it’s considering creating more sites.

“It kind of just depends on the numbers over the next few days and weeks. And the need and request for quarantine,” Ireland said.

The first guests are expected to start moving into the site on Sand Island next week.

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