Tiny homes development aimed at helping ease homeless crisis

Tiny homes development aimed at helping ease homeless crisis
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Duane Kurisu (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Duane Kurisu (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The son of a plantation worker, Duane Kurisu grew up on the Big Island's Hakalau Camp.

Now the Hawaii businessman is tapping into his roots, designing an affordable neighborhood modeled after plantation communities of years ago and just steps away from Oahu's largest homeless camp.

The innovative public-private partnership, called Kahauiki Village, will feature 200 tiny homes. They'll be erected on the state land where the old paintball field off Nimitz Highway used to be located

The state has agreed to lease the property for the project for $1 a year for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, rent for the tiny homes will be set at between $400 and $500 a month.

"Our goal is to make the homes reminiscent of how the homes looked like when we grew up," Kurisu said.

He added that the rent collected will be "solely for maintenance, security, onsite management, a fund to make sure the houses look decent 10, 20-years from now."

Kurisu originally purchased the homes back in 2011, when they housed more than 5,000 people in Japan displaced by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Before people move into the homes here, they'll be getting a makeover.

"We're going to make these units, one into a two-bedroom unit with a modular six-by-six foot bathroom, a six-foot kitchen. In the second unit, we're going to turn it into a studio and a one bedroom," said architect Lloyd Sueda

Kurisu added, "In between homes, you will see gardens. We envision breadfruit, banana and other fruit trees around the village."

This project is the first time the city, state and private sector have come together to work on a solution to homelessness.

The city has agreed to throw in $4 million to install water and sewer lines for the project.

Meanwhile, Kurisu and a long list of volunteers are taking care of the rest.

"For all of us involved in the project. It's about giving," he said.

He added that employment will be at the core of the new village, much like the old plantation camps.

For example, he said, "Just a short walk across the bridge is United Laundry. She told me that she will offer jobs to any and all homeless adults who want to work."

Kurisu says he hopes to begin building the first phase of homes by the start of the year.

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