An Oahu homeless shelter is closing down because its operators say they will no longer be able to run the facility under new state rules that require shelters to have more space for residents.
Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center housed about 75 people as of Thursday. Director William Hummel said the shelter is working to find residents a new place to stay now that the center is closing, Hawaii News Now reported.
Shelters were required to submit an operations plan last week that detailed how they would provide guests with more private space without added construction. Hummel said he didn’t submit a plan because the shelter wouldn’t be able to able to meet the requirements, which the Legislature passed this year.
“We didn’t apply because we don’t want to enter into a contract where we agree to do things we know can’t be done,” Hummel said.
Under the new rules, shelters will also lose funding if they don’t place residents into permanent housing within a certain period of time and aren’t at least at 80 percent capacity.
Hummel said the new requirements don’t make sense in a place like Hawaii, where Gov. David Ige declared the state’s homelessness crisis an emergency last year.
“There is no permanent housing. The outcome measures, the construction requirements, they’re all irrational. I don’t want to speak for other shelters but I don’t know how other shelters can do this,” Hummel said.
Scott Morishige, Ige’s homelessness coordinator, said the governor’s administration is taking the closure of the Waipahu center “very seriously.”
“We are committed to working together with Lighthouse to find permanent housing for individuals who are residing there,” Morshige said.