Homeless villages proposed for Hawaiian Homestead land

Published On: Feb 07 2013 06:14:00 PM HST

Homeless people are out on the beaches -- many for years.

Now some community advocates would like to see the state try a 3-year pilot project to shelter the homeless families using the Native Hawaiian concept of a kauhale system, a village or sorts.

"I don't have it all figured out. But if and if you take a broad concept and have a modern design of homeless families living in a Kauhale complex with wrap around social services," said Stephen Morse, of Blueprint for Change.

A bill is currently before the senate.  But the Department of Hawaiian Homelands cautioned against the idea.

"The homeless situation is a lot more complicated and requires a whole set of services we may not be set up to do," said acting DHHL Director Jobie Masagatani.

Emergency or transitional shelters also often tap into federal funds.

Some fear this could put the Fair Housing Act which bars discrimination, up against the homelands mission to provide affordable permanent housing for Native Hawaiians.

“In most cases those kinds of housing requires federal funding which it’s more restrictive. It's not like you can say we can use it just for Hawaiian homelands,” said Masagatani.

DHHL  points to the a new Ulu Kukui rental project in Waianae which has come under fire by some in the community because it allows non-Hawaiians to live on Hawaiian homestead land.

The bill would have the Department of Human Services take the lead on the pilot project.  But, DHS opposes the plan saying it goes against best practices.

20 years ago, the state tried a homeless village concept in Haleiwa and Waimanalo.

Families lived in 16-foot temporary structures with water and power but the state abandoned the project some say in part because of the problems it created.

There are some 26,000 Hawaiians on a wait list for homestead land, many who think the pilot project may take away from that effort.


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