The first phase of a permanent rental housing project for homeless families on O’ahu is less than 2 months from completion. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka visited the site and has this update.
Construction crews and volunteers work 7 days a week at Kahauiki Village located on the makai side of Nimitz highway between Ke’ehi Lagoon Park and Sand Island. The first phase of the project will consist of 30 houses, a child-care pre-school and other amenities. Duane Kurisu, founder of the non-profit aio foundation, set out to build a sustainable plantation-style village community.
“The total cost for the first phase was $12.4 million. Four million of that came from the City. Two million dollars was for the photovoltaic system. You know, we could’ve done it but it was important to us that we got more community engagement. So the rest of the money all came from the community.”
The state provided the land for one dollar a year, the city and county provided the infrastructure and a long list of construction, building supply, concrete, plumbing, electrical, and landscaping companies donated materials and appliances. The workers for these companies also volunteer their time on weekends, at no cost. Ty Ai is the director of construction for AlCal Specialty Contractor.
“There’s a lot of people out here and a lot of people behind the scenes that aren’t here physically working but each one of these guys – and I’m gonna count real quick – maybe 6 or 7 guys on the roof now. That could be 5 or 6 thousand worth of work.”
Coastal Construction Company, which has built 34-thousand homes in Hawai’i since 1968, oversees the building phase. Dale Maeda is the General Foreman.
“The other roofs there that are not done is the C Store and laundramat. And R and Y Russell is pouring concrete for the substation for the police.”
U-H Shidler School of Business MBA student, Tiffany Yoshida, is volunteering with some of her classmates to paint between her full-time job and final exams coming up.
“I’ve always been interested in the homeless problem out here in Hawai’I so when I heard that they’re doing something for Kahauiki I was like, ‘Yes!” I wanna participate; I wanna be a part of that.”
Once the construction phase is done, donated appliances will be installed and one hundred fruit trees donated by the Rotary Club of Hawai’i will be planted. Kirk Hovious, is the Rotary’s volunteer coordinator.
“As the project moves along we’re gonna be planting trees and helping with the landscaping. And we’re also going to help equip each of the units with kitchen utensils and things like that.”
A photovoltaic electrical system will also be installed at the village before the first residents move in January 12. Kurisu says Kahauiki will be the first community in the world to be completely off the grid and he thanks all the donors and volunteers.
“Hawai’i is a really generous community. I was telling people, I know somebody’s gonna say, “No” along the way. But every single person that we’ve asked, said, ‘Yes.’”
In my next report, how Kahauiki Village will try to change the lives of Homeless families. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.