City site to offer housing for the homeless
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Hawaii News

City site to offer housing for the homeless

  • COURTESY CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

    A rendering of a two-bedroom modular housing unit for the homeless that the city plans to install on a Waianae property. Courtesy of the city

  • COURTESY CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

    This is a rendering of a one-bedroom modular housing unit for the homeless that the city plans to erect on a Waianae property.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Demolition is set for this week on a city-owned property in Waianae at 86-537 Halona Road. The site at right will soon host modular housing units for the homeless.

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City officials are moving forward with a modular housing project in Waianae geared toward working homeless and homeless families with children. Crews started surveying the 7,500-square-foot, city-owned lot Monday and could start construction as soon as Friday.

The city has contracted with Hawaii Modular to build three modular housing or compact units on a Halona Road property that the city has owned since 1990 and was once used for recovering substance abusers.

The units, to be equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities, will cost about $109,000 each. Officials expect work to be completed in September and for tenants to move in during October.

Plans call for a one-bedroom unit compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and two two-bedroom units measuring about 500 square feet each, along with some open space. The city had initially said the units would cost about $35,000 to $50,000 each, but officials found after looking at different options that the chosen contract “provided a very quality and complete unit and is reflected in the price,” said Sandra Pfund, chief of the city Office of Strategic Development. Site work, contracted with Ideal Construction Inc. will cost about $425,000, according to the city.

That work will include clearing overgrowth, removing asbestos from the existing dilapidated seven-bedroom structure, and eventually demolishing it.

The project is not an emergency or transitional shelter but will relocate homeless people from parks and other public areas to permanent housing, the city said. The units will be permanent, but the tenants will be temporary. City officials are also working on a request for proposals to select a service provider to manage the property, help pick tenants and provide services. Pfund said the RFP “has to be fairly given, but consideration of understanding the community will be a factor.”

“We’d like to put up a model and then have the community look at it and look toward improvement as we do it on a larger basis,” Pfund said. “We hope we’ll have a lot of excitement with the community.”

But the proposal, presented to the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board last year, drew criticism from several residents about the size of the property, as well as potential effects on property values and whether tenants would be screened and monitored to ensure neighborhood safety.

Calvin Endo, a Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board member, said it is not a good idea to place a homeless project in the middle of a residential area. He added that residents expressed concerns over their safety and that tenants would be bringing more cars to the area. Endo, who recalled the city’s presentation at the board meeting, said members have been frustrated because they feel their voices are not being heard.

Resident Faye Crabbe, who lives across the street from the property, however, said she supports the project because the homeless “need to go someplace. They need a chance to change their lives.” Crabbe, 79, inherited her property.

Several community members have also raised concerns about another modular housing project on a 1.1-acre lot on Farrington Highway near Waianae High School that could accommodate 75 to 90 homeless people and cost about $2.3 million. Community members cited safety, traffic and flooding concerns, and maintained that they did not want Waianae to become a draw for the rest of Oahu’s homeless population.

Pfund said the city acquired the Farrington Highway property for $300,000 in April and is developing a conceptual plan. Officials have been working with an advisory committee made up of community members and stakeholders to discuss issues such as social services, programming and the layout of the units, she said.

Twinkle Borge, a leader of the homeless encampment near the Waianae Boat Harbor, said that if tenants are charged no rent or a small amount of money, she thinks families would move in at both the Halona Road and Farrington Highway sites. But she said several of the “houseless” families at Puuhonua O Waianae Village, which houses about 300 people, need help with job development and “don’t want to see themselves be pushed back on the streets.”

“They’re just scared of taking that leap of faith. When you live this way for so long, you become accustomed to it,” Borge said. “We look at the whole thing, not just the housing — getting them jobs, putting them into rehabilitation, seeing about the animals.”

City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who represents the Leeward Coast, said the Halona Road project could show how well modular housing works on the Waianae Coast. Regarding the Farrington Highway property, she said the city should not move forward until the community is comfortable with the project.

“The real solution is having these types of units in all districts because the homeless won’t want to come out to Waianae,” Pine said. “We feel very strongly that every community needs to take care of their own homeless population.”

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  • I have no problem with what the City is doing. Unfortunately, these permanent housing for temporary occupants become permanent housing for permanent occupants all on taxpayers’ dime.

  • “The real solution is having these types of units in all districts because the homeless won’t want to come out to Waianae,” Pine said. “We feel very strongly that every community needs to take care of their own homeless population.” Oh, yeah…every community will welcome homeless villages like these.

  • I feel for you guys in Waianae. The State and City has made it clear that Waianae and Kalihi are to be the state’s dumping grounds. I don’t know if this is feasible, but there’s a federal lawsuit in Texas because all the low-income housing was put into predominantly black neighborhoods, instead of integrating them throughout other neighborhoods. I realize Waianae and Kalihi may not have the “race” argument like in Texas, but Hawaii makes economic status a protected class — so, it’s still discrimination against a protected class. I’d like to see the ACLU file a suit to desegregate the homeless into all neighborhoods.

  • So they’re going to demolish a 7 unit complex to build 3 modular units at $500k? Why don’t they just paint the old place and drop in new carpet? The bums don’t deserve a BRAND NEW home, just an inhabitable place to meet basic needs which already is leaps and bounds better than living on the streets.

    Looks like our tax dollars are hard at work again and those brown Aloha envelopes getting passed around for more waste. The smartest thing for these imbeciles working for the city would be to buy all those cheap homes in Detroit Michigan for $500 – $1000 each and send the homeless there. Realistically, they could have housed about 500 families on the mainland instead of only 3 for the same cost here on Giligan’s Island!

    Every neighborhood board needs to start making proposals to send them to Detroit at every city meeting!

    • Really a disgusting comment that you can think of treating people this way. We spend so much to help the rich and want to spend nothing on the middle class and the poor. No wonder so much support for Trump and Sanders– profits by American companies and investors in Mexico at rhe cost of American Jobs, stuck at low minimum wage– yesterday Trump said we need to double the minimum wage. Sanders and Trump will say that Big Business, Wall Street and Big Banks are rigged against the poor and middle class. For almost 20 years we have been cutting taxes on the rich giving them $trillions in benefits– still waiting for that trickle down.

        • If we send them to Detroit, give them a monthly check of “X” amount for one year to help them get back on their feet?

          My fear is that they will save up the money to buy a one way ticket back to Hawaii!!!.

        • iwanaknow, the state of Hawaii should provide them only with the deed to the homes that are bought for them and should not provide them with any CASH funds. Besides, the government pays the poor in food stamps and not in cash to obtain food so they are less likely to acquire cash for an airline ticket. Other items of need can be acquired through various charities fairly easily too so I would safely assume very few would be persistent enough to return and chose to sleep on the streets.

      • My comment is not disgusting, what’s disgusting is people like YOU forcing others to pay exorbitant taxes to fund junkies and real bums that have no intention of ever working to live for free on an island that is NOT suitable for the homeless from an economical perspective. I provided a viable solution that would be in the best interest especially the homeless. What’s especially disgusting about your state of mind is that you’d rather see only 3 families get housing instead of 500 due to the exorbitant cost to obtain/build housing on this island.

        If anything, it’s YOU that should be ashamed of yourself suggesting I or anyone else that is contributing productively to society give others entitlements they don’t deserve. If you want to live in your Utopian world go move to former Soviet Union or North Korea where every citizen is treated equally by their loving and caring dictator.

        • Do the owners of most of the large shopping centers like Ala Moana, major office buildings downtown, and many of our biggest hotels pay Hawaii State Income Tax on the $billions in rent they receive in Hawaii? NO100% of their income from rent from their commercial tenants is not taxed. Employees and tenants pay their tax and make up for what the lucky owners do not pay. The owners get a tax break from the State of Hawaii and the Federal Government. How about if we tax just a part of the rent they receive and take out of state– say 25% and we could afford to help the homeless and the service employees in the hotels and shopping centers most of whom work more than one job when they can or they will join the homeless.

        • Tempmanoa, deliberating with you is pointless as I can tell you’re clueless in business as well as taxa matters. I’ll just leave you with a few things to research so you can better educate yourself and save yourself from future embarrassment.

          1. Post a credible source proving that the homeless are better off in Hawaii than on the mainland.

          2. Count and post here how many billionaires on the Forbes 500 list live in Hawaii vs the mainland.

          3. Count and post here how many Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Hawaii.

          4. Post a credible source proving the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. From my recollection, in 2012 the top five percent of income earners paid a majority (59 percent) of federal income taxes and this analysis was from the IRS!!!

          After you manage to educate yourself, assuming you can of course, you’ll soon discover that the homeless are much better off on the mainland.

      • What’s disgusting is believing people should be treated like animals in a zoo, where they rely on others to feed and house them, always dependent on handouts. To have a shot a self-sufficiency – which should be the REAL goal here — they need assistance in relocating to a place with a lower cost of living. If anyone prefers to continue to freeload off taxpayers instead of trying to become self-sufficient, then THAT is disgusting, and especially since they are condemning future generations to the same life of being a kept animal.

    • I agree with dragon – Hawaii cannot continue to support unlimited number of homeless who want to live in Hawaii for free. And even if they WANT to become self-sufficient, they are not going to do it here, the most expensive state in the nation. Their only shot at self-sufficiency is to relocate to a place where the cost of living is lower, and to me, Hawaii’s only moral obligation is to help them with that move.

  • stop wasting tax payers money on temp. solutions and start coming up with permanent solutions like fixing all the vacant units in public housing and start moving homeless families in. with all the vacant public housing units we have on the books that need updating you could house the homeless population. But for some reason the incompetent administration just loves to waste tax payer money on failed ideas.

  • It is not my, or the government’s responsibility care for, feed, and shelter people who never took responsibility for themselves and never bothered to view these things as a priority in their lives.

  • I know economics, finances, taxes, and business well because I have worked in finance and investment and real estate here and on the mainland. Taxes for my wife and are in the highest bracket, but we pay a smaller percentage of our income on taxes than we 15 years ago. Corporations today pay a much smaller percentage of total tax revenue than they did 15-20 years ago. I am conservative on economic matters, but liberal on social issues because our economic growth has slowed with all the tax cuts for the wealthy that has not flowed downward to spur more consumption to generate more investment. Even ex Reagan financial advisors say the same thing.

    But as one example back to my question– do the mainland owners of Ala Moana and major office buildings and hotels totaling about $12 Billion in value conservatively pay Hawaii tax on the rental income generated by those properties? Figure every year that income produces 4-7% net income return on the value of the properties they own. BTW– they pass on excise taxes to their tenants who pass them on to us. That is just one benefit we give to wealthy owners but not us.

    • These owners you speak of are “shareholders” not some tycoon like Rockefeller. Thousands of regular middle class people own a piece of Ala Moana since most billion dollar firms including the owners of Ala Moana are publicly traded. So these massive profits you claim are all thinly diluted if any at all. General Growth Properties, Inc (Ticker=GGP) which happens to own Ala Moana was at the brink of going belly-up trading at 50 cents a share back in 2009 and faces the exact same threat as America’s dying shopping malls have billions in debt coming due. So please share your billions of dollars in profits these greedy corporations made off Ala Moana because their financials seem to show negative cash flow for the last three years in a row.

      I can’t phantom how someone with a self proclaimed financial background would logically come to the conclusion that it’s most prudent to tear down a 7 unit complex and replace it with 3 unit housing and then have the audacity to argue that this is a better choice than outright buying 500 homes (with fee simple deeds) to house 500 homeless families for the exact same cost on the mainland!

      Since you claim to be very familiar in economics, can you share your bean-counter reasoning from an economic standpoint why the homeless are better off here than on the mainland?

      I’m not even going to bother going into the cost of living differences on the mainland vs an island where 90% of the food and resources have to be imported to. With your logic and quantum accounting wizardry in finance, it’s no wonder companies like Enron had to shred documents to hide their losses.

      • General Growth is one example. It pays no state income tax at the corporate level on money it receives in rent from tenants (unlike corporations– General Growth is a Real Estate Investment Trust). It distributes income to its shareholders who do pay income tax; however, almost all these shareholders are out of the State of Hawaii, so they pay no Hawaii income tax. There are very few Hawaii shareholders in General Growth, so almost all of the tax on rent received by General Growth from Ala Moana Shopping Center goes untaxed by the State of Hawaii and we pay to make up the difference!! Some Hawaii shareholders in companies like General Growth have also escaped Hawaii income tax by forming a private REIT to receive all of the dividends from General Growth tax free (this is under litigation with the State of Hawaii, but no published cases on the State winning these cases). General Growth filed for bankruptcy, but it did not got belly up! Debts it owed to many local companies got cut off in bankruptcy. One Share holder benefitted and that company, the Howard Hughes company which is owned by a corporate raider who also sits on the board of A&B, now owns properties in the Ward Center and a condominium site in Ala Moana Center.

  • So they are going to build this housing right on a white sandy beach with palm trees and flowering bushes. Can I become homeless and have one of these –laying on the beach, fishing, etc.

    • That would be nice. However, this property is not “right on a white sandy beach”. Of course, being around 1.5 miles from the beach is better than many of use have.

  • Why are we mixing all types of housing styles? Why not erect the same type of modified “shipping containers” that they already did at Sand Island? I believe the cost at Sand Island was around $523,000 for “25 renovated shipping containers that can accommodate up to 85 people” which works out to around $21,000 per container. Then add in a bathroom and shower facility and have it managed by IHS.

    By buying lots of the same type of housing units, the cost per unit will drop and design work, management, and security can be done the same way everywhere.

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