‘Plantation village’ for homeless makes another big splash

Homeless village plan

A groundbreaking ceremony was staged yesterday for the new modular housing development for the homeless near Keehi Lagoon, and a few new facts emerged, along with some new questions.

The project’s developer is on the board of directors of the newspaper, for one thing.  That could obviously lead to some self-censorship or uncritical promotion, but maybe not.

One-bedroom units at “Kahauiki Village” will rent for $725 per month, including utilities.  That’s not exactly cheap, especially for prefab housing being erected in what is now a veritable wasteland of swamps, drug zombies, and trash.  Still, it’s inexpensive compared to most of the rental market, and it’s new housing, which our island sure needs.

“There will be no support for addiction or mental illness needs.”  But there will be a shared coin-operated laundry facility, and a day-care center is “planned.”  Other recent accounts have also mentioned a new preschool.

The city is spending $3.6 million to install fire hydrants and provide sewer and water service, according to the newspaper.  “The idea” is also to include natural gas and a photovoltaic system.  It’s not clear whether that will really happen, or who’s paying for it.  There’s a lot of talk about other nice-sounding plans too, like “vegetable gardens, fruit trees and fish farms to encourage food sustainability.”

The developer “declined to say how much it will cost” to set up the village, but added that the cost is “a big amount” that keeps growing.

No doubt.

The village will be run by the Institute for Human Serv­ices (IHS), which runs the big homeless shelter in Iwilei near the former K-Mart, where homeless people and druggies congregate all over the neighboring sidewalks.  It’s not clear who will be paying IHS to run the new village, but it sure seems like it will be the city.

IHS 1

The newspaper actually mentioned the long-lost “state-of-the-art” homeless facility planned for Iwilei that Mayor Caldwell announced more than one year ago (and hasn’t mentioned since), but didn’t bother to ask him when that $6.3 million project is actually going to open.  Why don’t the media people follow up on these things?  Do they just wait around until a groundbreaking ceremony is staged for their benefit?  That doesn’t make any sense, especially with this ongoing crisis.

The newspaper also didn’t mention the plan to erect a big antenna at the Kahauiki Village site for the developer’s radio station.  That plan is not necessarily bad or anything, but it kind of raises some questions about how transparent this whole thing has been and whether there are some other motives at work.

The governor said the village project represents “an example of what we can do as a community when we are committed to helping attack one of the most complex and challenging challenges that our community faces.”

That sounds nice, and those “challenges are challenging,” but it sure seems like all the governor really did is get out of the way and hand the property over to the city, which is putting in all the infrastructure, working with the developer, and will probably be paying the nonprofit that will run the place.

It’s so hard to understand why the state couldn’t have pursued a project like this on its own a long time ago, especially since it had the land available.

Does it really take a private developer who needs a site for his radio antenna to get everyone together to provide rudimentary low-cost housing for families that desperately need it?

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