HONOLULU (KHON2) — The city’s $17.2 million Homeless Resource Center has been empty since February 2022, but the Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement team will soon move in.

CORE will operate out of the once-vacant facility in Iwilei. The team is moving in donated hospital beds and medical supplies this week.

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“We’ve got a donation of 50 hospital beds used from both Wahiawa General Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Center. So we’re going to bring about 25 over here, we’ll save the other 25 for maybe a future respite,” Dr. Jim Ireland, Honolulu Emergency Service Department director said.

The goal is to care for Oahu’s most vulnerable individuals and place them in permanent housing.

“Our EMTs can come and check vitals,” said Jenny Neal, CORE field supervisor. “We can be with these people 24/7 like med management that you cannot do on the streets.”

“Their frustration out on the street is they don’t have places to take people who have dementia, wounds, other medical conditions where they’re too sick for the shelters not sick enough for the hospital,” said Dr. Jim Ireland, Honolulu Emergency Services Department Director.

Construction of the multi-million dollar facility wrapped last February. The city said the funding issues stem from the project starting under the previous administration who had a different idea of how the facility would be used.

KHON2 is asking the tough questions about what’s being done so this doesn’t happen again.

“This certainly is a lesson learned, because not only are we dealing with local state or city funds, but federal funding and how we specify the types of projects that we want to have,” Radiant Cordero, Honolulu City Council Budget Committee chair. “We have to scrutinize and be careful at how we start to fund city properties and city projects.”

Digging deeper, KHON2 found another site in question is the former Dee Lite Bakery in Kalihi.

“Because it is so restricted to affordable housing I think the needs of the community which includes social services or even a health or medical doctor in the area that could’ve thrived there,” said Cordero. “We may not have there because of the type of funding.”

The other portions of the Homeless Resource Center, which includes studio apartments, remain closed. However, there are discussions on which agency would be best to operate it.

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Meanwhile, CORE is expected to start operating its medical respite in three weeks in Iwilei.