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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2007

Nonprofit seeking to build center for youths

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser West O'ahu Writer


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A nonprofit organization that aims to help young people who need a place to live and other support is eyeing a four-acre site in the Honouliuli section of 'Ewa to build a service center and residential treatment units for up to 48 youths.

Hale Kipa Inc. received a positive recommendation from the 'Ewa Neighborhood Board earlier this month. It now is seeking a conditional use permit and height variance from the city for the project.

The organization chose to put the facility on Old Fort Weaver Road largely because of the growing number of younger families moving into West O'ahu, not to mention that the Judiciary is relocating its major Family Court operations to nearby Kapolei, said Jaque Kelley-Uyeoka, Hale Kipa's deputy chief executive officer for outreach programs.

"It's a comprehensive services center," she said. "So we would be pulling together many of our outreach programs and staff that serve that part of the island and that would be their base, as well as our business office people. And we'll have a school for the youth who will be in the shelters on the property."

The temporary shelter facilities are intended for youths ages 12 to 17 who are runaways or homeless, or have been abused or removed from their homes because of other home situations.

"These are not offenders," she said. The facilities would be in addition to about 18 other shelters that operate out of residential homes, she said. Youths could stay no more than about 18 months.

The educational center will contain 32,000 square feet, while each of the residential treatment homes will be about 2,900 square feet, she said.

The center will feature classrooms, an improvement over the places where classes are now held: the dining rooms of the homes the youths are staying in, she said.

"That's not a good learning environment for kids," she said.

"Even though we like to perform a lot of our services in the community and keep families together in the community, it has also become very clear that there are times where youths need to be served in private, safe homes that can have staff in them 24/7 to both provide supervision and therapeutic services," she said.

Cecelia Chang, a deputy city prosecutor with the community prosecution program, said the Hale Kipa facility would work well in tandem with the highly touted 'Ewa Weed and Seed program.

"While weeding initiatives in 'Ewa focus on juvenile crime, it is essential that youth-support services, like Hale Kipa, be available to seed the area and help 'Ewa's youth," Chang said in a letter supporting the project.

Chester Koga of R.M. Towill Corp., which is planning the facility, said he does not expect traffic to be an issue since the youths staying at the facility will not be driving, although about 20 to 28 people comprising the administrative staff will be working out of the complex.

Koga said he expects the facility to begin construction next spring.

Kelley-Uyeoka said Hale Kipa recently began a capital campaign seeking to raise $19.6 million for the project.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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