The good news is that the City and County of Honolulu has finally opened a new housing complex on the Waianae Coast for formerly homeless people — after nearly three years of stumbling around. It’s across the street from Waianae High School, and just up the road from the massive illegal squatter camp beside the boat harbor.
The bad news is that the complex is very small, the rents are very high, and nobody seems to be asking the most painfully obvious question: Are any of the people from the boat harbor encampment expected to move into the new housing?
Not only is that the most sensible question that any child could think of after the past few weeks of drama over the squatter camp, but just over one month ago state officials were saying that they hoped squatters from the encampment would take advantage of the new city housing because they planned to shut down the illegal camp.
That was before the fiasco over the alleged impending “sweep” of the camp erupted in full force and the governor personally assured that no sweep was coming.
It’s interesting that the governor was not around for the grand opening of the new housing.
But if the squatters are still homeless, shouldn’t at least some of them be eligible to move in?
Apparently none of the media people involved are capable of connecting more than one dot, so we just don’t know.
And there are lots of other questions.
The newspaper reported that the project “cost $5 million” and will be managed by a private group “which does not receive a city subsidy for the project.”
Huh? So how does that work? Does it mean the $5 million was not taxpayer money spent by the city? I sure doubt it.
Does it mean that the city paid for the whole thing and the private group will now manage the complex with no further subsidy from the city? That sounds incomplete and misleading.
According to one of the TV stations, “rent for a one-bedroom at the complex is $981, while a two-bedroom unit comes in at $1,177. A housing subsidy covers a portion of those costs.”
That sounds an awful lot like federal “Section 8” housing vouchers handed out by the city will subsidize the rents.
Which is a good thing for the tenants, because a thousand bucks per month is an awful lot for a glorified prefabricated garage in Waianae. An awful lot.
So it sounds like the city is subsidizing the rents, which indirectly subsidize the landlord.
Are the rents a lot higher than they really need to be, and will the private group that’s running the place turn a profit? Are they running the place for free? Will the tenants be living there indefinitely, or is this supposed to be temporary until they can transition into private housing and other homeless people can take their place?
Why can’t the city explain these things clearly, and why can’t the media at least try to figure it all out? This is the kind of opaque government and incompetent reporting that frustrates the hell out of taxpayers and makes them very hesitant to support these kind of projects.
And it’s a real mystery why it should cost anyone $5 million to put this project together. The city reportedly paid $300,000 for the 1-acre lot. There are only 16 units, which works out to about $312,000 for each of them, including the land.
$312,000 for small, prefabricated wooden boxes crammed together on city land in Waianae?
And it took them nearly three years?
Gosh, you’d never know that we have one of the nation’s worst homelessness crises.
Unless you opened your eyes just about anywhere.
If this is the best the city can do, we’re all in very deep trouble.