Here’s why tiny homes are being installed just steps from the governor’s mansion

On, Tuesday morning, a pair of tiny homes were delivered to the Capitol District on the back of flatbed truck
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 1:17 PM HST|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 4:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first of 12 tiny homes that will make up a medical respite site for the homeless were installed Tuesday in a parking lot at the Health Department ― just steps from the governor’s mansion.

The project is part of a bold effort to put so-called kauhale, or tiny home villages, in the Capitol district.

Gov. Josh Green came up with the idea to build the village six weeks ago.

The plan is to have people living there early next month.

On, Tuesday morning, a pair of tiny homes were delivered to the Capitol District on the back of flatbed truck and placed in a state Department of Health parking lot just steps away from Washington Place.

“We have a total of 10 units for occupancy,” said HomeAid Hawaii Executive Director Kimo Carvalho.

“The inside is 110 square feet. There will be a security and a nursing unit down there at the far end. There will be a fence installed.”

It’s a first-of-its-kind kauhale village centered around caring for the medical needs of the homeless.

“This is going to be free of charge,” said James Koshiba, the governor’s homeless coordinator. “For people who are being discharged from urban Honolulu hospitals. And are still in need of a place to rest and fully recover.”

He said more than 200 people are discharged from hospitals into homelessness on Oahu every month.

“This will allow us to improve care,” said the Queen’s Health System CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green.

In part, she added, because it will reduce the need to return to the emergency room.

Green said, “If they can be discharged here, they’re going to be in a safe environment with a nurse that’s going to be seeing them everyday. Making sure they have the right sustenence, the right time to heal, and they heal faster.”

Unlike other kauhale villages, this one is temporary.

It’ll operate until more permanent medical respite beds are created.

“Our estimate right now is that it will take about six months,” said Koshiba. “Once this kauhale is no longer needed because that space is open. These units will be reloctaed. Most likely to a permanent kauhale site.”

Statewide, the governor says he wants to build as many as 15 permanent kauhale in an effort to increase the inventory of affordable housing. Two have already been successfully established in Waimanalo and Kalaeloa.

“For this site, we’re also going to be doing mobile hygiene. So that includes, showers, restrooms, access to water,” Carvalho said. As for what all of this costs, the head of HomeAid Hawaii says so far 90% of the pop-up kauhale has been paid for through private donors. HomeAid Hawaii says it’s looking for donations to help furnish the units.

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