(BIVN) – The Village 9 Homeless and Affordable Rental project in Kealakehe will serve as the template for an island-wide approach to the helping the houseless.
That’s one of the messages in a new report produced by county officials, entitled Homeless Plan For Hawaii County. Mayor Harry Kim’s Executive Assistant Lance Niimi is taking the lead on the issue, and presented the plan to the County Council on Tuesday.
Village 9 is just a part of the larger approach to the issue. Already, $184 thousand dollars is being allocated for the Village 9 project, to be used for planning expenses to develop a master plan and environmental assessment for the location.
The state’s Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) approved a Memorandum of Understanding between HHFDC and the County of Hawai‘i on January 11, 2018 whereby HHFDC agreed to lease 15- 20 acres to the County for facilities to service the homeless population and to fund the planning expenses. The County plans to subdivide the 35. 774- acre site located at the corner of Kealakehe Parkway and Ane Keohokalole, into two parcels — HHFDC would develop an affordable rental project on the mauka parcel, and the County would develop the homeless facility on the makai parcel.
The county says the environmental assessment would provide the community an opportunity to comment on the master plan prior to subdividing the parcel or executing a lease.
From the plan, under 7.3 County Actions:
Hawai’ i County is working with the State Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) to lease a State parcel for a pilot assessment center. The proposed site is approximately 15 acres referred to as Village 9 in Kealakehe. The concepts to be tested at this site include:
- Target Beneficiaries. In comparison to the Kakaako Assessment Center that focused on families with children, the County’ s project will take all types of homeless, assess their needs, temporary shelter them as needed, and match them with available transitional shelters managed by other partners.
- Emergency Shelter. This site will serve as an overflow emergency shelter when there are no vacancies in the other shelters.
- Flexible Residential Design. The units would be designed as cottages (a. k. a tiny homes) clustered around common open spaces ( a. k. a pocket neighborhoods). The clusters would enable separation or integration of the homeless types ( e. g., families, individuals, chronic) as appropriate. Some of the units would be self-contained with toilets and showers, while others would share common facilities. Various housing types could be tested for quickness to build, cost, comfort, flexibility, and other criteria (e. g., igloos, adapted containers, pre -approved tiny package homes).
- Conversion Potential. Depending on the capacities of the service agency partners, the units could convert from emergency to transitional to permanent supportive housing, or affordable rentals for individuals and families.
- 1 -Stop Services and Capacity Building. A multi- purpose community center would be a place for meetings, service providers, cooking, eating, health services, exercise, tutoring, and other uses.
An open area would be used for growing food (e. g., garden and/ or hydroponics or aquaponics). The services available to any homeless or at -risk person include:
- Food Self -Sufficiency. Initially Camp Kikaha relied on donated meals. In lieu of receiving handout meals, the project will test the following: Learn to raise food crops and livestock together with the community using natural farming methods, hydroponics, aquaculture, and aquaponics; Learn to prepare and cook own meals in a common area kitchen; Mentorships would be sought from university agricultural cooperative extension personnel, master gardeners, and community college chefs.
- Economic Self -Sufficiency. Partner with entry-level skill employers (including County Parks, Highways and Public Works, farmers, resorts, landscape maintenance firms, resort homeowner associations, entry-level employers) to train and hire. Service providers would solicit partners, identify training needs, develop training programs, and provide job coaches to support the client’ s performance. Financial literacy coaching would also be provided to manage any income earned. Security training would be provided through the camp security program where the homeless residents (in teams of 2) would be trained and provide camp security.
- Housing. Caseworkers (also referred to as Housing Navigators) would assist with debt management, rental deposit assistance, emergency loans, rental assistance, and finding affordable units. The homeless would be offered construction skills training by building the homes on- site.
- Transportation Services. Vans would be purchased to shuttle homeless to their jobs, etc. A relationship would be established with Uber and/ or Lyft. Qualified drivers would drive the vans to earn income.
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment. Mental health services will be provided on- site. Substance abuse programs will be available, and recovering substance abusers would be asked to counsel their peers.
- Education. The intake process would include an evaluation of the individual’ s educational level. The site would include a library. Tutors would assist willing individuals at whatever level.
- Health and Hygiene. The Fire Department’ s community paramedicine program would team up with other health care providers to provide regular on- site checkups. Hygiene would be mandatory as part of the rules for staying or receiving services at the camp — toiletries would be provided as well as facilities (showers, sinks, toilets). Fitness instructor to lead daily exercises. Fitness events like Ironman to be asked to donate bicycles and fitness equipment.
After Village 9 has been started with the benefit of lessons learned, the County will work to find sites and build assessment centers in Hilo, Pahoa, and Ka’ u where the needs seem greatest based on the Point in Time counts.
The State provides emergency shelter stipends to the shelter provider, provided minimum requirements are met relating to number of showers and bathrooms, minimum area of partitioned space, and storage HRS § 346- 374.5).