The City and County of Honolulu unveiled what it calls the biggest homeless hygiene center in the nation today.
(Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “Okay. So this is where the washing machines are gonna be…”)
Mayor Kirk Caldwell conducted a tour of the soon-to-be opened Homeless Hygiene Center at 431 Kuwili Street in Iwilei. The 4-story building was purchased by the City for 6.3 million dollars two years ago with another $10-million spent on construction and renovations.
“This here’s the women’s restroom and then in here is the men’s restroom. This is the janitor room here and going down this way are the showers and that’s a fairly big area. Bigger than many of us have in our own homes.”
The 43-thousand square foot hygiene center will be operated by Mental Health Kokua when it opens in January. The center will have kennels for pets, storage for personal belongings, heat treatment to kill bed bugs and mail boxes to receive public assistance checks. Greg Payton is CEO of Mental Health Kokua.
“We know we’re going to serve about 100 people a day. That’s about 36,000 visits a year. We have security guards that will make sure things are operated according to rules but we’ll have several staff members as well who will be able to do an assessment with them, find out what their medical needs are, help them to get an identification so they can get on a health plan. All of those things and, if no, we can get them hooked up with the state.”
Mental Health Kokua will receive one million dollars for the first year of operations plus up to 4 one-year extensions. The upper floors will have medical services and about 40 units for housing individuals. The City also awarded a 5-year contract to Craig and Danica Shoji to operate a mobile hygiene trailer with showers and toilets and a pump truck to tow it. Shoji says the Revive and Refresh trailer can operate anywhere with a water hook-up.
“They gave us about 150-thousand for the equipment so after that the remainder of the 400 is for operating costs so you got about 50-thousand per year after that.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Caldwell says the Honolulu City Council is delaying the implementation of Bill 51 and 52 which ban obstructing and living on public sidewalks. The ordinance targets the homeless but cannot be enforced until the Mayor provides his updated homeless plan.
“They want a hundred percent holistic solution to solve everything right now. That doesn’t exist. It will never exist. They’re setting up something that won’t happen and so that we can execute on 51 and 52, those two bills. But this is a step in the right direction and istead of holding us back, they should let us loose.”