Hale Iki Village almost ready for families displaced by lava to move in

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The interior of one of the units at Hale Iki Village in Hawaiian Paradise Park.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Kimo Kahele of Kimo Kahele Construction builds stairs Thursday at Hale Iki Village in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Connect Point Pastor Dion Maeda talks Thursday about the progress of construction at Hale Iki Village in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Kilauea might have quieted during the past month, but work continues on transitional housing units for those who were displaced because of the eruption activity in lower Puna.

Hale Iki Village, a development of 11 micro-units built on property owned by Connect Point Church in Hawaiian Paradise Park, is slated to be finished this month.

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On Thursday, work continued on the grounds, although it seemed as if the simply furnished small houses themselves were almost ready to be occupied.

Connect Point Pastor Dion Maeda, who is helping lead the response efforts of the faith community, said 10 families have been identified for Hale Iki, and a tentative move-in date of Sept. 18 is set. A grand opening is planned for Sept. 29.

Hope Services Hawaii “will be there to help us do the management of those who come in,” he said.

Although the church owns the land and initiated the work, “since then, it’s been a community project,” Maeda said, with 85 different community partners collaborating on the effort.

Work was initially expected to be finished last month, but “that definitely has not happened,” Maeda said.

“With all the other storms that has happened, that pushed it back about two weeks,” he said.

Contractors also have been busy on their own jobs, “so everybody’s trying to fit it in between all their regular contracting work,” Maeda said.

He thanked the faith groups, businesses, nonprofits and individuals in the community “for coming together to help our neighbors in their time of need. That’s what the Big Island is all about — everyone helping out one another.”

Hale Ike is the second such development that has come to fruition in the wake of the eruption activity, which began May 3 in Leilani Estates.

While Hale Ike will focus on family housing, a development of 20 micro-units at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa, geared toward evacuees older than 60, was completed earlier this summer.

First residents moved in July 3, said Hope Services CEO Brandee Menino.

Menino said Hope Services partnered with the county to help those trying to get out of emergency shelters. Move-ins, though, have been staggered.

It “doesn’t make sense to have 20 households move in all at once,” she said. The goal was to “really create a community and not create more chaos.”

Initial residents came to the Sacred Heart shelter from the Pahoa Senior Center, Menino said. A second group of residents came from the emergency shelter in Keaau when that closed last month, and in between they took calls from others.

According to Menino, the last few units at Sacred Heart have been held for the closing of the Pahoa emergency shelter, which happens Monday.

Last week, Menino said three seniors who expressed interest in the Sacred Heart development were identified.

One moved in Thursday, another moved in Friday and the third will move in Monday.

Next week, Menino said they’ll be at capacity, but population counts are fluid, with people moving in and out. For instance, three residents already moved out into more permanent housing situations, she said.

Menino said the Hale Iki and Sacred Heart projects are the only two she is aware of that have been completed or are under construction. Other projects she has heard about are still in planning phases, she said.

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There continues to be a need for housing, and continued meal services also will be needed, Menino said. Anyone who is able to help can contact Kristen Alice at 938-7239.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.