Homeless facility made out of retrofitted shipping containers opens in Sand Island

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Nov. 19, 2015 at 11:21 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2015 at 3:53 PM HST
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SAND ISLAND, OAHU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - The Hale Mauliola Housing Navigation Service Center, made out of retrofitted shipping containers, welcomed its first residents Thursday.

The Institute for Human Services is contracted to operate the facility built on state leased land for at least one year.

The first eight of 26 re-purposed shipping containers designed as mini living quarters are currently in place.

The rest will be installed through the end of the year.

Once fully complete, up to 90 homeless can be served at a time by the first-of-its-kind center in Hawaii, created to quickly move the homeless into permanent housing within 60 days.

"This is not an emergency shelter,"  said Kimo Carvalho, community services director for IHS. "This is not a transitional shelter, this is actually a housing navigation service center, and it's actually meant to be a launching pad for the homeless individuals to get into permanent housing. That's the goal."

The Institute for Human Services staff will work out of a main trailer that will not only serve as the reception and intake area, but also as a place where clients can meet with service providers.

The facility has 24-hour security, bathroom and shower facilities, Wi-Fi access and food and transportation services.

Carvalho says it's specially designed, based on similar facilities in San Fransisco, Calif. and Eugene, Ore. to target those in the homeless population who are really trying to get off the streets working to get documents and secure jobs in order to stabilize their ability to maintain housing. Officials call this "housing ready."

Outreach workers are identifying and looking for homeless couples and individuals who are "housing ready" who would be a good match for Hale Mauliola because they'll only be staying for about 60 days.

"They have to be serious, independent and actually working with our services to really get into housing right away and get stable," Carvalho stressed.

The living units are small, but quaint and comfortable. All of the properties have a bed with linens, towel and shelf space, even a solar-powered light and electronic device charger. All the clients also receive a small toiletry kit. The new digs and amenities are designed to help motivate homeless individuals to come off of the streets and seek the help that can get them into permanent housing. 

"To date, we've actually received 38 applications," said Carvalho. "Next week Monday, we're actually having another six come in with pets."

IHS Executive Director, Connie Mitchell said they are thankful that The Hawaiian Humane Society is helping out their clients with animals.

"The Hawaiian Humane Society is helping pet owners get their animals neutered/spayed and treated for ticks and flees before entering the facility. The owners have to pay for immunization and county registration though," said Mitchell.

Allowing pets and couples are just some of the reduced barriers that Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell believes will help the facility get people into the site and into services.

In the meantime, IHS continues to operate its 24-hour emergency shelter in Iwilei.

As of Wednesday, Carvalho said IHS had space for up to 44 family members and had 60 available beds for single men.

Mobile users: See a slideshow of the facility here.

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