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Hale Maluhia opens its doors for domestic violence victims

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Hale Maluhia, which is operated by the Domestic Violence Action Center, welcomed victims and survivors of domestic violence into 20 one-bedroom apartments.

The apartment complex opened its doors in the first week of April. All units are currently full.

However, there is a wait list of 10 people and future residents may still sign up.

Marci Lopes, deputy director of the DVAC, said they’re working with the city and county of Honolulu to hopefully provide more units in the future.

“We have a critical shortage of housing options for domestic violence survivors, and that’s one of the main reasons why survivors go back to their abusers,” she said. “They can’t find housing or they can’t afford housing. It’s just a critical need in our community.”

The open-air apartment complex is considered as affordable housing in a gated community with security cameras. Residents pay 30% of their monthly income for rent.

Residents can sign a one-year lease and may renew it again if they choose.

Some residents came from emergency shelters, according to Lopes.

Both children and service animals are welcome, and there is no max to how many people can live in one unit. Lopes said there is even one mother and four children living in one room.

Services are provided for the residents that include attorneys on staff that are able to help them with custody issues and restraining orders.

The goal of Hale Maluhia is to equip the survivors of domestic violence with the tools, skills and confidence to move forward from their abusers.

Hale Maluhia signed a contract with the city of Honolulu back in March, and by April the units were flooded with residents.

“The units filled up so quickly that we hope that there’s more units that are able to become available with the support,” Lopes said. “We partnered with Housing Solutions Inc., and they manage the property.”

Hale Maluhia translates to “House of Peace.”

Lopes said the discussions of the apartment complex came before the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to the virus there is a higher demand for housing domestic violence survivors.

“We hope that while working with our clients that they’re able to increase their income and hopefully in the future they’ll find bigger units or somewhere where they’re more comfortable with,” Lopes said.

Survivors do not have to worry about contracting the virus from their abusers or other residents in a shelter since they will have their own place to self-quarantine, according to Lopes.

But unlike emergency shelters, Hale Maluhia residents don’t have to worry about sharing a room with other people. Some concerns about shelters may be rooming with someone who could have contracted the coronavirus.

“In those shelters, they don’t have their own room,” Lopes said. “You could have to share with other people, so they really had to be concerned and worried about that.”

However, there have been past discussions from advocacy groups and organizations to provide quarantine rooms at emergency shelters.

Lopes said some of the domestic violence survivors moved into Hale Maluhia with nothing.

But two Kailua teenagers along with other community members volunteered to gather donations for the Hale Maluhia residents. Grace Kennedy, 15, and Olivia Rose Kennedy, 12, gathered 88 baskets of donations. Some of the items include: clothes, soap, towels, feminine products, toys, toilet paper and even a brand new pair of sneakers.

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