Editorial: Home for Waianae homeless
Waianae’s houseless dwellers took an important step toward permanence, announcing they are in escrow to buy a 20-acre property inland, in hopes of moving there to establish a “kauhale,” or homestead, for up to 250 people.
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For years, Pu‘uhonua o Waianae has subsisted as a makeshift community at the edge of Waianae Small Boat Harbor, a couple hundred campers bonded by houselessness. This week, those dwellers took an important step toward permanence, announcing they are in escrow to buy a 20-acre property inland, in hopes of moving there to establish a “kauhale,” or homestead, for up to 250 people.
It’s a promising development for a unique group, but this intended prototype will need to overcome many hurdles before it succeeds.
Among these: Raising $1.5 million by the end of February 2020 to buy the property outright, to avoid incurring a mortgage. The nonprofit Dynamic Community Solutions, formed to launch and operate this Waianae venture, has raised about $950,000 in donations; another $3 million will be needed later to start building tiny homes that will cluster around communal kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as crop farms. Tenants are expected to pay $200-$250 monthly.
Other obstacles: The acreage is zoned agriculture, so questions remain on how residences will be enabled. Also, NIMBYISM (“not in my backyard” pushback) is already surfacing among worried future neighbors.
Leader Twinkle Borge, who has lived at Pu‘uhonua o Waianae since 2003, called the upcoming move “real scary.” That it is — for her, the 200-plus villagers and the advocates rooting for this project to succeed. The hope is to clear the illegal encampment from the harbor area, while stabilizing this community of people — including 21 children — rather than scattering them onto the streets of Waianae, and beyond.