City transforms former gambling den into low-cost apartments for homeless

City transforms former gambling den into low-cost apartments for homeless

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former Chinatown gambling haven has been transformed into apartments for the homeless.

William Sager has spent years bouncing in and out of homelessness; his last stint on the street lasted seven months.

Most nights, Sager says, he slept in places along River Street -- across  from the building he now calls home.

"I was on the streets right around the corner," said Sager. "Aala Park, anywhere I could sleep safely."

It wasn't until Sager met a man met Yao -- an outreach worker from the Hawaii Pathways Project -- that his outlook changed.

Now, Sager sees life from a new prospective. Yesterday, he moved into Winston Hale, laying claim to a 200 square foot apartment.

"Oh my God, when you walk in and look to the left, there is this huge room. And there's a bed," said Sage. "It's like on a pedestal, like floating, and you know it's for you."

It took developers five months and about a million dollars to renovate a total of 29 existing units and tack on six additional micro-units.

"This is a product of the city really thinking out of the box and making the most out of the least here," says architext Russel Wozniak. "There's 2,800 square feet, and we've managed to put six units in 2,800 square feet. That's almost unheard of."

Tenants pay 30 percent of their monthly income for rent.

Although Sager just moved in, he says it already feels like home. He gives his outreach worker credit for making it all happen.

"All I did was what he told me to. Easy," said Sager

The building is already more than half full. Outreach workers say the rest of the units are already spoken for.

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