HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new pilot project is offering a more immediate but temporary approach to getting homeless people off the streets. It’s funded by the state and managed by the city. It’s called HONU or the Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons. The Honolulu Police Department will have 10 tents for the project in hopes to help those in need as soon as possible.
These are the tents used for the HONU mobile navigation centers that will serve as a temporary overnight shelter if existing shelter space is not available.
“These shelters have very specifics purposes and used in the emergency response field,” said Tom Cushing, Sales Manager for Zumro, the tent company. “And this is a unique approach where they can set something up and set up a temporary shelter.”
There will be health care and social service officials on-site along with Honolulu Police presence.
“I think especially people who we encounter in the middle of the night, we have very few emergency shelters that can accommodate people overnight, so this will fill a critical gap in our homeless service system,” said Scott Morishige, the State Homelessness Coordinator.
The first park that was chosen is the Waipahu Cultural Garden Park where Hawaii’s Plantation Village is also located. The spot was picked because of the number of homeless people in the park.
“Our concerns were our guests we have a lot of tourists and especially a lot of children that come,” said Evelyn Ahlo, Hawaii’s Plantation Village Executive Director. “As we talked with the city and HPD, keep talking with them having meetings, then we thought okay we should try. It is a pilot program and people need a second chance.”
“I feel the majority of my constituents feel that we would be far better off to have the homeless occupy or residing in a kind of setting that the HONU project will provide rather than for the homeless to remain on the streets,” said City Councilman Ron Menor.
The plan is to have several of these tents on-site for 60 to 90 days and then moved to another part of the island. So neighborhoods will not have to worry about having a permanent structure set up.
The budget for the 3-year pilot project is $6-million. The governor and mayor are expected to speak about the project at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. We learned these tents could go up as soon as this week.