An empty building behind the Institute for Human Services women’s shelter in Iwilei is expected to open on Tuesday or Wednesday to treat potential homeless people afflicted with the novel coronavirus.
City officials on Tuesday signed a right of entry to allow state Department of Health workers to access the 26-room building at 909 Kaamahu Place, Councilman Joey Manahan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today.
The building is informally known as the “Kaaahi” project after the name of the closest cross street to Kaamahu Place.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to announce details later today.
Because of the lack of sanitation in homeless encampments, concerns have been growing that the novel coronavirus could spread rapidly among Hawaii’s more than 7,000 homeless population.
Hotel workers from Unite Here! Local 5 went into the Kaamahu Place building Tuesday and Wednesday to clean up the 26 rooms that are capable of housing a total of 52 people and did other prep work like installing shower curtains, Manahan said.
IHS is expected to provide homeless services and the Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui, known as H4, is also expected to be involved in health care for homeless COVID-19 patients. H4 currently treats homeless clients in Chinatown’s Joint Outreach Center next to the Honolulu Police Department’s substation.
IHS has been screening homeless people coming into its separate men’s and women’s shelters and smaller homeless shelters it operates around Oahu.
But there is no way to quarantine clients who test positive for the coronavirus in the larger men’s and women’s shelters.
The city bought the “Kaaahi” building for $9 million to possibly relocate the Sand Island Treatment Center when the city expands its Sand Island wastewater treatment facility.
It was previously used as a halfway house for released federal prisoners and is “move-in ready,” Manahan said.