More construction- related companies, architects and two private landowners have stepped forward to help create a new, communal “kauhale” concept to build permanent, tiny homes for Oahu’s chronically homeless adults.
Since the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday highlighted the kauhale concept — it means “village” — that’s being pushed by Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Nani Medeiros, executive director of the nonprofit building group Home Aid Hawaii, Medeiros also has been contacted by several people willing to assist in the project.
Among them was a Kailua couple that pledged $40,000 to fund the construction of two more tiny homes and two landowners who offered to donate their land for even more possible villages.
Ryan Routh, the owner of Camp Box Honolulu, which builds storage units and tiny houses, said his donation of a tiny house allows him to use his expertise to address a larger problem.
“As a community, if we can all come together and put our resources together, it would be extremely beneficial,” Routh told the Star-Advertiser on Sunday. “All of us are tired of seeing the homeless people all over the island with nowhere to go.”
He’s particularly inspired to provide housing for “the ones that have pets and animals. The vast majority of these people are asking for a plot of land that they can call their own.”
The first 10 tiny homes of approximately 100 square feet — plus an additional lanai of 32 to 48 square feet — are scheduled to go up next month on two acres of Hawaiian Housing Authority land in Kalaeloa next to US Vets, which is offering help to the residents.
By March, Green hopes to see the first kauhale expand to a total of 35 to 39 tiny homes.
Then next year Green hopes to see four more kauhale locations around Oahu, before moving on to the neighbor islands in 2021.
Each one is focused on specific demographic groups of chronically homeless adults, some with mental health and substance abuse issues, who generate many of the homeless complaints around Oahu.
The first kauhale at Kalaeloa is aimed at housing chronically homeless military veterans. Another at the State Hospital in Kaneohe is intended for newly released patients who would otherwise be homeless.
Each kauhale would include communal bathrooms and kitchens. There are four floor plans that cost $17,000 to $20,000 to build.
Residents would likely pay monthly rent of $200 to $250, Green said.
The kauhale idea was inspired by a September trip to Austin, Texas, that Medeiros organized to visit a much larger community of Texas residents who were formerly homeless called Community First!
Community First! saw reductions in substance abuse while getting employment for its residents at an auto business that can do safety checks, an art gallery and an outdoor movie theater.
Medeiros has since been contacted by companies such as Camp Box Honolulu that are unaffiliated with Home Aid Hawaii, an organization of builders and developers created to reduce homelessness.
Another company offering help provides a wide range of services that will be needed for the kauhale concept, including general contracting, air conditioning, demolition, disposal, hazardous material abatement, building and remodeling and facilities maintenance and restoration, Medeiros said.
Two architects also have offered their services, which Medeiros will need for future villages.
“We may use some of the same floor plans, but when it comes to site design, we’re going to need architects,” she said.
Medeiros also has been contacted by a construction project manager, “which would be very helpful. That person could basically serve as a builder captain on one of our projects,” she said.
Medeiros was humbled by all of the offers, but said she also could use experts in landscaping and solar.
She believes the kauhale concept provides an opportunity for builders and developers to use their skills to address the homeless problem in Hawaii, which has the nation’s largest per capita rate of homelessness.
And even for people unaffiliated with the construction industry, such as the Kailua couple that pledged to fund two tiny homes, the concept appears to make sense.
Medeiros read an email she received from the couple that said the kauhale idea appears to be “sensible and seems to have the right backing to become reality.”
HOW TO HELP
Anyone willing to sponsor a tiny home or otherwise contribute to the kauhale community concept can contact Nani Medeiros at firstname.lastname@example.org.