New West Hawaii Homeless Shelter Blessed

From the Mayor’s Office:

About 100 people attended the blessing for the first emergency homeless shelter in West Hawai’i, located in the old industrial area and adjacent to the existing Friendly Place service center at 74-5593 Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona.

The new West Hawai’i Emergency Housing Program Facility has a total of 31 beds with separate wings for men and women, and cost $1.77 million. Until now, west Hawai’i did not have an emergency homeless shelter that serves adult single clients.

Funding is being provided by the federal, state and county governments. The largest single source of funding is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is providing special project grants of $670,613 and $148,500. Additional funding for the project is being provided through a state appropriation of $453,007, and $500,000 in county construction funding.

Rev. Brian Boshard of Mokuaikaua Church conducted the blessing, which featured U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi as featured speakers. Also speaking were Housing Office Administrator Steve Arnett and Carol Ignacio, executive director of the Office for Social Ministry, which will manage the facility though an organization known as Hope Services Inc.

The new facility will enhance the existing “Friendly Place” service center. Each wing will have a bathroom and shower facilities, laundry facilities, common kitchen and meeting areas, and a multipurpose room for classes and meetings. The facility will also have administrative space for the facility operator, and storage space.

The new facility will provide emergency shelter and services to clients to help them stabilize and to encourage self-sufficiency. Clients will be offered employment and housing search assistance, budgeting and life skills training and other classes along with guidance to help them connect with other off-site community resources.

There are just under 1,000 people in Hawai`i County experiencing homelessness. About half of them are homeless individuals who will benefit from this facility.

During the ceremony, special thanks were extended to County Councilman Kelly Greenwell and the Kona Outdoor Circle, who donated thousands of dollars worth of landscaping material and labor to the facility.

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