City officials will be on hand Wednesday evening at Puuhale Elementary School to provide information and answer questions about plans to relocate some 100 homeless people to a vacant plot of land in the heavily industrial area of Sand Island.

The public meeting will be held in the school’s cafeteria at 345 Puuhale Road on September 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The school is less than two miles from the proposed homeless encampment.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration is couching the proposal as part of its “Housing First” initiative, designed to move chronically homeless into permanent housing first and then provide them with drug and alcohol counseling and mental health services.

To this end, the administration has named the site the “Sand Island Housing First Transition Center.”

Sand Island homeless site

Site of the proposed homeless encampment.

Sophie Cocke/Civil Beat

“This facility will not be a ‘safe zone’ or ‘tent city,'” according to a press release from the mayor’s office. “Instead, Housing First principles will be employed in an outdoor setting to bring homeless persons into a safe, supportive environment and provide assessment services, stability, and access to supportive services in the interim before permanent housing units become available.”

After a year or two, the city hopes to move the homeless into permanent housing, which isn’t yet available.

No housing will be provided at the site. Rather, homeless are expected to bring their own tents, according to a Saturday story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The city intends to have 24-hour security, portable restrooms and showers and storage units.

The site is located just over the bridge leading to Sand Island on the makai side of Sand Island Parkway. It’s a dusty plot of land with overgrown brush located just before the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and across the street from a Matson terminal. It’s also next to a BMX race track and boat launch site.

The site was selected after “an exhaustive search that included 25 locations island-wide, from Hawaii Kai to Ewa,” according to the mayor’s press release. “Most sites were deemed unusable for this purpose due to proximity to high density residential areas, proximity to schools, or economic impact on larger community.”

The Sand Island site is already attracting controversy because it’s remote, in the midst of a heavily industrial area, hot and appears to lack electricity.

The Sand Island land deal still needs to be approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, which is holding a hearing on Friday on whether to give the city access to the state land.

Video of the proposed site: 


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