I’ve been wondering whatever happened to the much-publicized plan to construct plantation-style modular housing for homeless families near Keehi Lagoon.
It seemed like not much was going on over there since the plan was announced more than one year ago, besides expansion of the illegal squatter encampments that have been on the site and around the Nimitz Viaduct for a long, long time.
Was this just another of the big projects that is announced with a lot of fanfare that eventually fizzles into the ether?
There’s been a small flurry of media attention lately, and it turns out that the project, called Kahauiki Village, is quietly moving along. The first families are expected to move in by the end of this year, according to Hawaii Business magazine, which is owned by a company founded by the guy developing the project.
That’s great news! There needs to be a lot more decent and affordable housing for families who really need it. I’ve wondered out loud why we couldn’t build simple, dignified, inexpensive homes like the ones so many of us grew up in to help address this terrible crisis. Solutions don’t really have to be so hard.
For this project, the developer was able to lease for $1 a year a big patch of state land that was transferred to the city of Honolulu, which will provide water, power, and sewer service. The plan is to use modular housing units that were originally built for tsunami victims in Japan.
Hawaii Business magazine notes that the village will sit on 11.3 of the site’s 13 acres, and that the rest “is reserved for a radio antenna.”
And not just any old antenna, it turns out, but an antenna for a local radio station owned by the same developer, and the antenna must move to make way for the big rail transit project, according to other reports.
I don’t recall anything about the radio antenna in any of the initial reports about the plan, and I wonder how much it would have cost to lease state land and receive all the necessary approvals for that kind of facility.
An early sketch of the homeless village plan. Where’s the big radio antenna?
So the developer will get something very important out of this project too, it seems. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But it does make one wonder if there was some backroom action going on with this whole plan, and whether it was deliberately kept secret while the housing aspect was marketed to us as a philanthropic effort, especially since the developer received permission to inspect the parcel for the antenna project in September of 2015, or about two months before the homeless village plan was announced.
Still, the important thing is that this housing project could really help a lot of people. Let’s hope that it really does so, and soon.
The housing project has grown more elaborate in other ways, and may now include a preschool and daycare center, according to another report. It’s starting to sound almost like a regular residential subdivision.
Why couldn’t the state have developed something like this on its own ten years ago, when the homeless crisis first started getting really, really bad?
It’s just amazing that the problems have grown so entrenched without much real action being taken to address them.