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West Hawaii emergency homeless shelter blessed

Sen. Daniel Inouye, Carol Ignacio, Brandee Menino (both of Hope Services Hawaii), Mayor Billy Kenoi and Steve Arnett join the blessing ceremony at the West Hawaii Emergency Program Facility. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

West Hawaii’s homeless have a new safe place.

About 100 people attended the blessing Monday, Oct. 18 for the first emergency homeless shelter in West Hawaii, adjacent to the Friendly Place service center at 74-5593 Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona.

The West Hawaii Emergency Housing Program Facility has 31 beds with separate wings for men and women, and cost $1.77 million. Until now, west Hawaii did not have an emergency homeless shelter that serves adult single clients.

“Homelessness is not a county issue; it’s community issue,” said Jeremy McComber, county housing specialist.

The center provides temporary housing that allows its residents stability and dignity as they move toward self-sufficiency, McComber said.

Funding was provided by the federal, state and county governments. The largest source was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provided special project grants of $670,613 and $148,500.

Additional funding was secured through a state appropriation of $453,007, and $500,000 in county construction funding.

Rev. Brian Boshard of Mokuaikaua Church conducted the blessing, with featured speakers U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Mayor Billy Kenoi. Also speaking were Housing Office Administrator Steve Arnett and Carol Ignacio, executive director of the Office for Social Ministry, which will manage the facility though an organization known as Hope Services Hawaii Inc.

“If we cannot help those without hope, without friends, without family, we have failed,” Inouye said.

“It’s not about the dollars, it’s about the people,” Kenoi said. “It’s important to have funding and resources, but it’s more important to help people. This facility is a real testament to the aloha in our community.”

Arnett said he is proud to be associated with the center, which offers temporary housing up to six months.

“This project was a No. 1 priority for me because it does something nothing else does,” Arnett said. “This will help get people off the streets. This is their first step.”

The new facility will enhance the existing “Friendly Place” service center.

Clients will be offered employment and housing search assistance, budgeting and life skills training and other classes along with guidance to help them connect with other off-site community resources.

Each wing has a bathroom and shower facilities, laundry facilities, common kitchen and meeting areas, and a multipurpose room for classes and meetings.

The facility also has administrative space for the facility operator, and storage space.

The center still needs much of its furnishings, Arnett said, but is on target to open to clients Nov. 1.

Just less than 1,000 people in Hawaii County are experiencing homelessness, according to current estimates. About half of them are homeless individuals who will benefit from this facility.

Ignacio said it was important to build a facility that offered dignified and respectable housing with a home-like setting.

The facility already has a waiting list, she said.

During the ceremony, special thanks were extended to County Councilman Kelly Greenwell and the Kona Outdoor Circle, who donated thousands of dollars worth of landscaping plants, material and labor to the facility.

For further information, call Hope Services Hawaii at 935-3050.

Pastor Brian Boshard conducts the blessing. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Margaret Masunaga)

Carol Ignacio and Steve Arnett at Monday's blessing. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Mayor Billy Kenoi joins Auntie Elizabeth Lee for a tour of the new center. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Each cubicle-style room includes a bed, chair, fridge and mini-microwave. Eventually, each room will include a locker for clients to store their valuables. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

The project came in on time and under budget. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

4 Responses to “West Hawaii emergency homeless shelter blessed”

  1. aitaninda ceasar says:

    Please help me and my family party of two, cause we don’t have place to live. we have big problem in this house that we stay in. so, please help me and my family for one place to stay.

    Thank you and god bless you…

  2. Please help me and my kids…I have two kids one is is just turning two on december 8 and a new born I just gave birth recently on the september 30th 2012…I am teen mother not married yet only a boy friend. Right now we leave with my boyfriends parents but its really not going well they’re always having problems…If it’s not too much to ask please help me….

  3. justin kolsen says:

    i am alone and have no place to go and I am in a new place and new surrounding and need some guidance and some help with some things and I also have a job at ultimate burger but no place to bed down and I haven’t got my first check if you could help me out it would be great my email is justinkolsen @gmail.com amd my cell is 12083082783

  4. silesteo mcleeonno says:

    pre med student 50k in debt, massage lic sence 2002, last year i made less then 5k and come dec 1st i will be homeless. the viral disease of capitalism is destroying the human race. i could put my # up but no one cares, whats the point of living. i think of suicide everyday. i was born and raised on the big island and i am not feeling the aloha ! 1.7 million for 32 beds. estimated 1000 homeless ” where are you getting this ” too many people with skills have no where to go ! the state wants to get rid of the homeless problem ? then take the gov owned land and use it, build, !! buy shipping containers and convert them into homes. give us somewhere to go ! or the Hawaiian beaches will be converted into more tent city’s. its just a sad fact in our Hawaiian paradise

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