Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell showcased a city facility, under construction, aimed at getting homeless residents off the streets every day.
But most of the people who will use the soon-to-be-completed hygiene center will be back on the streets at the end of the day.
Caldwell showed off the compassionate side to his compassionate disruption plan, which targets Oahu’s homeless, by showing off a large city hygiene center being built in Iwilei.
“We want them to come here, and feel comfortable and safe so they will seek improvement to their lives,” stated Caldwell.
The new urban rest stop expects to serve one hundred homeless residents each day.
It will have separate mens and womens bathrooms and eight individual shower stalls.
It is a far cry from the current hygiene center in Chinatown, which is older with limited space, resources and case workers to help the homeless in urban Honolulu.
The new center will have more washing machines, lockers and even a device to kill bed bugs on clothing and bedding before people wash them.
It also has places for residents to put their pets, while they take care of their own needs.
“People who come in here with their pets are welcome. They can come in and put their pets in the kennel while they do everything else,” added Caldwell.
The city paid $6 million dollars for the building and will spend another $4 million to renovate it.
“It is a lot of money, but it is worth every penny to help our homeless population get back on their feet and into housing,” stated Caldwell.
Once the building is complete, outreach personnel and case workers will work out of the second floor to help people get much needed services.
“The case management is key here, because this is a safe place to engage people. When we do homeless outreach on the streets it takes a long time to build trust. Here is a natural place to do it,” said Greg Payton, with Mental Health Kokua.
By the end of next year, the third and fourth floors will be renovated and will then house more than three dozen homeless residents.
There are more city plans to build additional facilities and homeless resources nearby. An effort to move residents from the congested streets and sidewalks of Chinatown into Iwilei.
“In the long term, that is what we’d like to do. There are certain services that we would like to relocate out to this area, and we are actually acquiring the properties next door,” said Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan.
The new hygiene center and a mobile one contracted by the city will provide some comforts to the homeless. But the Mayor has also been very clear and perspicuous about allowing the new stronger sidewalk enforcement bills to be enacted. He would like even more effort to push people off the streets and guide them into help and housing.