Tuesday | December 06, 2016
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HOPE Services expanding reach with halfway house, CEO Menino says

HOPE Services Hawaii will expand its services to the Big Island with the addition of a clean and sober house for Department of Public Safety felony inmates making the transition back into the community.

HOPE Services Hawaii’s Friendly Place Campus, home of the organization’s West Hawaii Emergency Housing Facility, Resource Center and transitional programs, will now also accept up to 15 inmates at a time at the emergency housing facility located off of Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona, said chief executive officer Brandee Menino. With the addition of the re-entry program in West Hawaii, the emergency housing facility will become a 24/7 operation capable of providing services around the clock.

“We were looking for ways to try to find money and support for our resources, and this was that opportunity because they were looking for transitional housing,” Menino said about HOPE Services Hawaii’s partnership with the Department of Public Safety to provide a halfway house in Kona. DPS recently awarded the organization a two-year contract valued at $200,000 annually.

HOPE Services plans to welcome the first Hawaii Community Correctional Center male inmates, who must be on “extended furlough, community custody status,” by summer’s end, Menino said, adding that in the first year the re-entry program will work with no more than 15 inmates. An average stay lasts nine to 12 months, though they can stay for up to 24 months.

Inmates who are accepted to the re-entry program will likely hail from Kona, she said. Many of them are already traveling from one of two East Hawaii re-entry facilities to work in West Hawaii and then travel back to East Hawaii for the evening.

“It’s exciting for our community and the people that we serve to offer this program,” she said. “We want these people to have the same opportunities to get a fresh start.”

The addition of the re-entry program will not harm the services the organization already provides in West Hawaii, she added. It also will not affect HOPE Services work at the Kaloko Transitional Housing program.

Rather, it will add to the services because the organization will now be able to staff the Pawai Place emergency housing facility 24-7, Menino said. Currently, the housing facility is open just two hours, between 5 and 7 p.m., for people to arrive to stay the night. They have to leave by 7 a.m. when the facility closes.

As for concerns of mingling between inmates and emergency housing users, Menino said some of the processes and rules are still being hammered out. However, the inmates will be located on the mauka side of the facility while emergency housing users will be located on the makai side.

She also noted that most of those inmates are from a similar population and are facing some of the same struggles as those using the emergency housing facility. However, if parameters are required, they will be put in place.

The inmates will also be held to stringent standards, outlined in a binder that requires the inmates to account for all of their time — from job seeking and working to simply socializing and getting around in a vehicle, Menino said. Pay stubs and bank statements, from accounts approved by caseworkers, must also be submitted as proof of their activities.

Violations are handled on a case-by-case basis and may result in revocation from the re-entry program. For example, if an inmate does not return at a scheduled time, he is considered an escapee by police, or if an inmate fails a urinalysis test, he will be returned to DPS for transport back to Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo, she explained.

“Any deviation from the plan has to be called in,” she said.

West Hawaii’s re-entry program will be the second such program operated on Hawaii Island by HOPE Services Hawaii, Menino said. Currently, through its Hilo HOPE Resource Center, the organization houses up to 15 inmates, including those on drug court probation. The re-entry program opened in 2006.

The state operates 0ne re-entry program facility on Hawaii Island, Hale Nani in Panaewa.

Public Safety Director Ted Sakai confirmed Wednesday that the department recently awarded the two-year, $200,000 annual contract to HOPE Services Hawaii to provide housing and case management services to up to 50 adult male and female felony inmates in the Kona area. The contract goes into effect today.

The re-entry program facility will target inmates who are from the Kona side of Hawaii Island and are nearing the end of their terms at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo. The inmates must be designated as on “extended furlough, community custody status” in order to take part in the program.

The determination is made on a case-by-case basis and takes into account crimes committed, length of time served, behaviors and other factors. The state defines extended furlough as a program for nonviolent offenders who live and work in the community, but are required to return to a correctional facility during weekday or weekend evenings.

According to the department’s November request for information, the provider must provide 24/7 clean and sober living arrangements and on-site accountability supervision of inmates, and case management services to assist with re-entry. The state and inmate would cover rent expenses.