HONOLULU (KHON2) — Among the places where people are finding a way out of homelessness is Kahauiki Village. KHON2 wanted to know what’s working well, and how that model could help get more people into stable housing.
Always Investigating has been digging into the issues surrounding the root causes of homelessness, what works and doesn’t work to get people off the streets. We’re seeing that it takes more than just a roof to change someone’s path.
Brittanie Howard and her bright little boy go about their day like many families across Oahu: making sure the little one gets fed, loved and taught; mom puts in a solid day’s work; rest and play in the comforts of a home. But it wasn’t always this way for Howard, nor for thousands of housing-insecure people on the island.
“I came out of prison, and from prison, I went into a clean and sober house,” Howard said. “I went into another clean and sober house, and my lawyer called me and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re getting your kids back.’”
But there was a catch: She had to have a stable place to live. That led her to apply at Kahauiki Village, a transitional housing community off Nimitz Highway near Keehi Lagoon Park.
“It has created a safe environment and a stable environment,” Howard said. “We have programs that help with employment, with learning how to garden, we have childcare, we have around the clock support, we have case management”
Kahauiki Village houses more than 500 individuals and families. They pay a modest rent of under $1,000 a month for the largest 2-bedroom units; 1-bedroom units are under $800. It’s a project made possible by private-sector donations led by Duane Kurisu, state and county resources from land to utilities and grants and day-to-day operations by the Institute for Human Services.
Howard found more than just a home here. She found a career path.
“I’m starting my schooling in social work and my end goal is to become a substance abuse counselor,” Howard said.
Meanwhile, she’s working for IHS in a specialty shelter program.
KHON2 asked her, why does Kahauiki Village work, when sometimes others cycle in and out of shelter programs or won’t leave the streets?
“It’s hard to reprogram people who have lived so long in one certain type of way,” Howard said. “People go through traumatic events, all stages of their life, that create a disconnect in — in the mind.”
She knows because she worked her way out of it — out of trouble, out of addiction, out of housing instability — with the help of wrap-around services, not just being given a roof and key.
“I do have a therapist who checks me, who is like, ‘No, don’t do that. That’s wrong, you know, let’s figure out a way to change that and create a new habit,’” she said. “And that’s what we need to do for our homeless population, is help them create new habits that get them out of that record that tells them that’s all you’re gonna be, that’s all you’re gonna be, that’s all you’re gonna be. You’re crazy. You’re stupid. You’re all of these things.”
Always Investigating will continue to explore what works, what doesn’t and what’s still needed to help thousands more still living on the streets.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
Anastazia McIntosh contributed to this story.