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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:24 a.m., Monday, May 1, 2006

State to open temporary homeless shelter

Advertiser Staff

Homeless facility being constructed in Kakaako.

Workers put the finishing touches on the inside of the homeless facility

Wash basins and portable toilets await the homeless at a new facility being opened in Kakaako. There are more toilets and sinks than what is shown here.

Photos by Richard Ambo | The Honolulu Advertiser

A former storage facility off Forrest Avenue just 'ewa of Kaka'ako Waterfront Park will be used as a temporary facility for about 200 homeless people who have spent the last several weeks at Kawaiha'o and Central Union churches, state officials announced this morning.

The site, estimated to be about 35,000 square feet, will be open from 5 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. daily to those needing shelter. Dinner and a morning snack is to be provided by churches and other service providers.

Some homeless people who learned of the announcement this morning had mixed views on the idea. While many expressed happiness at having a roof over their heads, some were worried about the lack of showers and daytime access.

Many of the homeless people previously had stayed overnight at Ala Moana Beach Park, but that option became unavailable when the city began night closures there on March 27. The congregations at Kawaiha'o and Central Union have provided food and shelter since then on a temporary basis, and set today as the deadline for halting the services.

Work began at the state's new Kaka'ako site late last week and was continuing through today to ready the site, including placement of a new floor and a wall.

After talking to homeless representatives, the state decided to concentrate on "a safe and secure place to sleep, a safe and secure place to store their things, and bathrooms," said Stephanie Aveiro, state housing director.

Mats and cots will be provided later.

Aveiro said the site is intended to be available until more permanent arrangements can be made to accommodate the homeless. She said the site, which is owned by the Hawai'i Community Development Authority, should be available for about the next eight months.

Three nonprofit groups have been contracted to help provide social services and security at the site: the Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance, H5 (Hawai'i Helping the Hungry Have Hope) and the Waikiki Health Center.

State officials say about $200,000 is being spent on the effort.

Aveiro said about nine other sites were considered, including the vacated Kamamalu Building, the old Stadium Bowl-A-Drome in Mo'ili'ili and a vacant lot next to Mother Waldron Park. Homeless leaders also suggested Sand Island Park.

"We looked at every vacant site the state could access,"Aveiro said.