Mililani residents voice safety concerns over group home for mental health patients

Updated: Mar. 27, 2017 at 9:16 PM HST
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MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents in a Mililani neighborhood are worried as a nonprofit prepares to open a group home for mental health patients.

"The house literally sees into my backyard," said Nick Morris, whose lives next door.

The 4-bedroom home on the corner of Puanane Loop and Anania Drive is being leased by Hale Na'au Pono.

According to its website, the nonprofit mental health center has at least six group homes on Oahu and helps transition individuals into meaningful lives within the community.

The organization's executive director declined an interview with Hawaii News Now, but confirmed the clients moving into the Mililani home are being transferred from another group home.

He wouldn't offer any more details and that is why neighbors say they're concerned.

"There may or may not be sex offenders there, we don't know," said Daniel Rincon. "There may or may not be felons there, we don't know."

"He is not being honest to us and telling us what is really going on," added Morris.

But the organization says it doesn't have to tell them anything.

The state health department funds the group homes and says it's against the law to release any health information on individuals living there.

Residents argue that they have the right to know.

"I have a 16-year-old daughter and two sons," Rincon said. "Am I going to let them now walk down the street and walk our little dog? Probably not. And that sucks."

The community is circulating a petition hoping to prevent plans from moving forward. So far, about 100 signatures have been collected opposing the group home.

At the end of the day, residents say it boils down to safety and protecting their families.

"It's a friendly, middle-class neighborhood where everybody feels safe until this happened," said Rincon. "We're not telling them they got to shut down, but let us know because we're your neighbors and we live here."

Residents say eight patients will be moving in by the end of this week, though the nonprofit would not confirm that.

Hale Na'au Pono says those living in group homes are monitored 24/7.

The issue will be discussed at the next Mililani Neighborhood Board meeting in April.

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