County could begin construction of homeless village by year’s end

  • Camp Kikaha in the Old Kona Industrial Area was set up after the county evicted homeless illegally residing at Old Kona Airport Park last year. (Laura Ruminski, file/West Hawaii Today)
  • Village 9, as it’s been named, will share space on the 35.7-acre lot (colored green) with an affordable housing development operated by the state. (Map illustration/West Hawaii Today)

  • A person sleeps on the beach early March 7 in Kailua Village. The county’s plan for Village 9 was developed after dozens of homeless illegally residing at Old Kona Airport Park were evicted. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

HILO — An infusion of state money is helping kickstart the transformation of a vacant lot at the corner of Kealakehe Parkway and Ane Keohokalole Highway into a homeless village.

Village 9, as it has been named, will share space on the 35.7-acre lot with an affordable housing development operated by the state.

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Planning expenses to be funded by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation include the cost to develop a master plan and environmental assessment for both the homeless facility and the affordable rental project to ensure an integrated planning and assessment of the two interrelated projects.

The County Council approved a resolution Wednesday allowing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the state that brings $184,000 to county coffers to pay for planning expenses.

The HHFDC board on Jan. 11 agreed to pay the expenses and to lease 15-20 acres to the county for Village 9.

Roy Takemoto, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, estimated the process would take about seven months, enabling the county to begin construction by the end of the year.

The county’s plan for Village 9 was developed after Kim ordered police to evict dozens of homeless illegally residing at Old Kona Airport Park. Initial plans called for permanent housing for at least 100 of West Hawaii’s homeless residents. Roughly 30 of those homeless residents live at Camp Kikaha in the Old Kona Industrial Area, adjacent to HOPE Services Hawaii.

“I know Camp Kikaha can’t stay there for that much longer,” said Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha. “I’m glad to see (Village 9) finally come up and hopefully it won’t take a really long time. … But we have a starting point.”

Council members sought assurance that the public will have the chance to comment on the project before it’s constructed.

Takemoto said there will be community outreach in conjunction with the environmental assessment process. After that, there will be more public input as a master plan is developed, he said.

Lance Niimi, Kim’s executive assistant, specializing in homelessness, on Tuesday presented a 52-page homeless plan to the council Committee on Human Services and Social Services.

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The county plans to use what it’s learned on the Village 9 project to work to find sites and build assessment centers in Hilo, Pahoa and Ka‘u, where annual Point in Time counts show the need is greatest. In the most recent count, Hilo had the greatest number of homeless individuals, while Ka‘u had the highest number of homeless individuals in families.

Much of the funding will come from the state, which provides emergency shelter stipends to the shelter provider, provided minimum requirements are met relating to number of showers and bathrooms, minimum area of partitioned space and storage, Niimi said.

  1. Pest Outwest March 15, 2018 2:48 am

    They may as well go ahead and schedule its demolition while they’re at it, because you know this is going to end up as a filthy den of drug crime.


  2. LOL in Kona March 15, 2018 7:21 am

    Remember, as Stephen Hawking (RIP) said
    …”Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it ”

    but if you are a leech, loafer, or druggie,
    ..the Hilo folk will pay all 100 of you to have permanent addresses
    ….so you can vote for them!
    Besides, the Obamination care freebies will give you a bean-counter harried doctor
    …and if you say “I hurt! I hurt!”, they give you a opioid prescription (cheap)
    …..that you can then sell (esp in Hilo) for big bucks.


  3. KonaRich March 15, 2018 8:01 am

    So the county plans to use what it’s learned on the V-9 project to later use in Hilo, Pahoa & Ka’u. So start over there where the need is greatest. They are using Kona as there guinea pig. V-9 will be mauka (down hill is easy, up hill not so much) of town, where most beggars want to be and the drugs and alcohol is. They will need transportation. Find some property in Kim or Takemoto or L. Niimi’s neighborhood an plant them there.


  4. metalman808 March 15, 2018 9:43 am

    What’s Harry Kim doing for the TAX paying working families that are struggling to make ends meet. Raise their taxes even more.


  5. Big ideas March 16, 2018 6:19 am

    Build it next to Harry Kim’s house!


  6. MyAss June 4, 2018 10:05 am

    Let’s hope the plans do come to fruition.
    It is much better to localize the problem, and thus, at least to try and keep it under control.
    In the meantime, the North end of the Old Airport Park has been securely occupied by the homeless lately. No more sitting and meditating there for those of us who are not homeless, for they do find a way to make you feel… well, not quite welcome.
    I wonder why it is such a problem for the county (and the town) to ask them to leave.


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