Non-profit hits roadblocks in search for site for youth Internet cafe
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Hope used to operate its Internet cafe in a building on North King Street. It catered to teenagers and kids.
"So all the activities in town going on during First Fridays, in Kalihi we had the First Fridays for the kids," Curtis Kropar said.
There were movie nights and pizza nights. Kropar said kids had a place to go. But today the space is empty. Hawaiian Hope lost its home when the city told the property owner that to keep the residential property tax rate, rental to nonprofit organizations was not allowed. For three years the Internet cafe has searched in vain for new space.
"It's past frustration. It's aggravating. It makes me angry. It really does," Kropar said.
He opened the Internet cafe to get Kalihi kids off the street and out of trouble. It was a hang out and safe haven for underprivileged youth.
"We were approaching 175, 200 people a day coming in to do stuff. Most of those kids," he said.
He said he can't find an affordable space in Kalihi or downtown.
"Many of the landlords we have contacted are holding out for top dollar. We have seen buildings that have been empty for three years, four years, five years, six years," he said.
He has been quoted prices of $20,000 or more a month -- way out of his price range.
"If we're looking at something that we can put 50 computers in, we can easily afford $2,000 a month," he said. "If we're looking at something we can put 100 computers in, we can probably afford something that's closer to $4,000 to $5,000 a month.
Hawaiian Hope sets up computer labs in shelters. It donates computers so homeless have computer access.
"If you want to break the cycle of what's happening with the homeless population, you'll work with the kids right now and you expose them to as much options in life as you possibly can," he said.
In seven years, the non-profit has given away over 900 computers to kids whose families can't afford one. It has hundreds in storage that will be given away in the future. Kropar hasn't given up on finding a new space for an Internet cafe. He just needs someone to open the door.
To learn more about the organization go to www.hawaiianhope.org.
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