Honolulu's Homeless "Solution"

SUBHEAD: This location will only be open for three years because the owners have development plans.

By AP Staff on 17 October 2015 in Al Jazeera America -

Image above: Photo of former homeless encampment along the Kapalana Canal, Hawaii by Cathy Bessewtz for AP. From (http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/21/Honolulu-Mayor-Kills-Expanded-Sit-Lie-Ban.html).

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has declared a State of Emergency to deal with the state's homelessness crisis just days after city and state officials cleared one of the nation's largest homeless encampments.

The move will help the state speed up the process of building a homeless shelter for families, and the state is considering four possible sites, Ige said at a news conference Friday.

"We are making sure that we have options for those who are homeless to move into an emergency shelter, and the biggest deficit in the system is shelter space for families," Ige said. "So the emergency proclamation would allow us to stand up shelters for families in an expeditious manner."

Hawaii saw a 23 percent increase in its unsheltered homeless population from 2014 to 2015 and a 46 percent increase in the number of unsheltered families, said Scott Morishige, the state's homelessness coordinator.

There were 7,260 homeless people in Hawaii at the latest count, meaning Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness per capita of any state in the nation.

The state has identified $1.3 million to expand services to homeless individuals and families, he said. In addition to a new shelter, the money also would go to the state's Housing First program, which provides homes and services to chronically homeless individuals without requiring them to get sober or treat mental illness first and programs that help families pay deposits and rent.

Image above: View of homeless housing site on Sand Island in industrial area looking north. Sand Island lies between Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu. It is connected to Oahu by a highway causeway. From (http://khon2.com/2015/06/02/city-unveils-plans-for-temporary-housing-homeless-services-on-sand-island-2/). 

The new transitional shelter the state is envisioning would house about 15 families at a time, Morishige said. Two of the sites under consideration are in Kakaako, the neighborhood where the large homeless encampment was cleared, and the other sites are in Liliha and near Sand Island.

The recent clearing of the Kakaako homeless encampment could be used as a model in other parts of the state, Ige said. By coordinating with service providers, more than half of the estimated 300 residents of the encampment, including 25 families, were moved into shelters and permanent housing, the governor said.

When completed in December, the shelter, in an industrial part of Honolulu, will temporarily house up to 87 clients at a time.

"They definitely are off the streets and in a better situation where we are in a position to provide them services that will help us move them permanently out of the state of homelessness," he said.

Meanwhile on Friday, crews were installing converted shipping containers for Honolulu's latest homeless shelter on a gravel lot on Sand Island. The rooms in the first units were designed for couples and are 73 square feet.

"If they're living in tents now, the individual units are going to be just as large or larger," said Chris Sadayasu, the asset management administrator for the Honolulu Office of Strategic Development.

The rooms, which were made from new shipping containers, each have a window and a screen door for ventilation.

The structures are insulated, and the roofs have white reflective coating, and an awning will provide shade for relaxing outside, said Russ Wozniak, an architect and engineer from Group 70, an architecture firm. The coating and insulation keep the units about 30 degrees cooler than they would otherwise be, Wozniak said.

"It's kind of as comfortable as you can get without mechanical air conditioning," Wozniak said.
A trailer on site holds five bathrooms that each have a toilet and shower, and there's a separate portable toilet and shower that are accessible to the disabled.

Image above: A 8' x 20' container fitted with two living units. Tubular frame above appears to be structure for tent cover over area between two facing units. From (http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/national/2015/10/17/Hawaii-governor-declares-state-of-emergency-for-homelessness.html). For more details on units see KITV video on this link. (http://www.kitv.com/news/First-look-at-Sand-Island-containers-for-homeless/35889966).

Another KITV News article on 15 June 1015 (http://www.kitv.com/news/honolulu-mayor-unveils-sand-island-homeless-facility/33359324) indicated:
There will be security on site 24/7 along with management officials. Although the plan calls for a shuttle services to provide residents rides to the nearest bus stop, homeless advocates feel the location may not work.

"Accessibility to resources: stores, fresh water, schools, jobs override any desire to actually want to come all the way out to Sand Island," said Kathryn Xian of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.

Its proximity to town is not the only thing that people are concerned with. Opponents say that the area's weather conditions may make it unbearable to live in those metal containers.

"We're concerned about the baking factor of these units. There are no trees that I saw in the design and the lack of access to water running water infrastructure rises the concern a bit more," said Xian.

City officials will offer opportunities for homeless to visit the site before deciding to live here. Initial construction will cost about $500,000 to build. The city will spend about $1.5 million a year on support services for residents.

This location will only be open for three years because the land owners have plans for the property after that.
[IB Publisher's note: Many who come to Hawaii realize it is possible to live outdoors.  It seems that Gov. Ige will go to great extremes to keep the homeless in Honolulu hidden from visitors. Control of the raised vehicular causeway that is the only access to Sand Island will in effect "trap" homeless people. What Ige seems to have envisioned is a FEMA camp for those who can't rent or own housing.

Wikipedia describes Sand Island, "formerly known as Quarantine Island, as a small island within the city of Honolulu. It was known as Quarantine Island during the nineteenth century, when it was used to quarantine ships believed to carry contagious passengers. During World War II, Sand Island was used as an Army internment camp to house Japanese Americans."

The Sand Island lies between Honolulu International Airport's an artificial island called Reef Runway and down town Honolulu. Heavy takeoff traffic of large jets takes place from Reef Runway. 

When construction of Reef Island was proposed in the 1970's an organization called Life of the Land sued the Department of Transportation contending  that construction of the Reef Runway would result in "loss of surfing sites" and "loss of the effective use of the proposed Sand Island Park due to high aircraft noise. See (http://www.hawaii.edu/ohelo/courtdecisions/LifeoftheLand73.htm). That has been what happened. Now a noisy public park extends along the south shore of Sand Island.

Most of Sand Island is used as an industrial site with a fuel farm and other  non-residential uses.The site for these "container homes" was fenced off and the topsoil and grass scraped away. Six inches of used roadway blacktop was laid down over the entire site and compressed. This surface will be a drivable by flatbed trucks delivering containers. Not a blade of grass will grow and the surface will be hot and emit petro-chemical gases.]

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