After long delay, $17M homeless resource center welcomes its first clients

The Iwilei Resource Center is intended to help those who need treatment, but aren't sick enough to be in the hospital.
Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 4:05 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 19, 2023 at 4:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Following a year-long delay, a facility built to serve Honolulu’s homeless population has finally opened its doors.

The Iwilei Resource Center is intended to help those who need treatment but aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital. The hope: That the center will offer a roadmap for easing Hawaii’s homeless crisis.

“The minute folks walk in, we’re gonna start working on where they’re gonna be for the rest of their life,” said city Emergency Services Director Dr. Jim Ireland.

The $17 million facility was ready to serve Monday after an extended delay.

And it didn’t take long for the site to provide the care it’s meant to offer, treating those with no place to stay while also relieving overcrowding at Hawaii hospitals.

“Every single bed, if a person is here and they’re not in a hospital bed, probably saves about $5,000 a day if you really want to know the truth,” said Gov. Josh Green.

“That $5,000 of extra resources goes a long way when we want to buy food or medicine or other shelter for individuals.”

The center, which is outfitted with 25 beds, is staffed by the city’s Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement team and patients can stay for up to 90 days.

In that time, employees are on hand to provide substance abuse counseling, social services, and assistance to find permanent housing.

“If we can get 250 people housed a year, through this vehicle and we replicate this at a few other places on this island, it actually makes this scalable and thinking a challenge we can take,” Ireland said.

Comprehensive care because solving the complexities of homelessness requires a dynamic solution.

“We shouldn’t forget that they’re our brothers and our sisters,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

“From a humanitarian standpoint, the street is not a home. It’s not a home for anyone under any circumstances and this is proof positive as to what we want to do about that.”