Tiny homes in Kona almost ready for occupants

  • Hawaii Fire Department EMS Capt. Mike Lam carries a window to one of the tiny houses built for the homeless last Saturday at Old Kona Airport Park. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Tiny houses for the homeless were built along the access road behind Old Kona Airport Park on June 13. Hope Service said Friday they hope to have the units occupied by June 30. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers construct tiny houses for the homeless Saturday at Old Kona Airport Park. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Tiny houses for the homeless built last Saturday at Old Kona Airport Park are expected to be occupied on June 30, according to HOPE Services.

The 18 units located on the access road mauka of Makaeo Pavilion were expected to be occupied on Friday, however, lighting, access to water, and fencing around the entire perimeter were not ready, HOPE Services CEO Brandee Menino said. She said the volunteer developer estimates he will need at least another week to complete the work.

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The temporary shelters, measuring 10-by-8 feet each, will accommodate individuals experiencing homelessness. Each unit can house up to two people. Community outreach teams are working to identify and engage with eligible individuals, who could number up to 30 people, according to a press release from Mayor Harry Kim’s office last week.

“Thirteen of the 15 individuals camping in front of the Friendly Place campus expressed their desire to occupy the new temporary shelter. They will be our first group of residents entering the new temporary shelter, Ka Lamaku, hopefully on June 30,” Menino said Friday.

She stressed other individuals with tents will be not allowed at the site, as they are trying to keep physical distancing protocols in mind. Pets, however, will be allowed.

HOPE Services Hawaii is working in partnership with other social service agencies to deliver 24/7 shelter monitoring services, delivery of grab-and-go meals, and the coordination of on-site mental and behavioral health services. They will also provide case management to connect program participants to appropriate permanent housing.

Menino said the project has been an “all-hands-on-deck approach to get this program up and running quickly.”

“We want to mahalo our community partners for their contributions, the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island, Salvation Army and Rotary Club of Kona who will bring most of the meals on-site,” she said.

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Kiwanis Club will be helping put together move-in kits with initial supplies like linens, personal care items, towels, flashlights, and battery-operated lamps. King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel donated pillows and blankets. Hawaiian Airlines donated blankets and American Savings Bank will be donating plants for the site.

“We are so grateful for the generosity and compassion from our community, businesses and faith partners,” said Menino.

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