Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Thursday that the city has awarded an $850,000 contract to the Institute for Human Services, the largest homeless shelter operator in Hawaii, to manage a transitional housing facility on Sand Island.

IHS will handle case management and provide support services — including housing referrals — along with its partner agency, Helping Hands Hawaii.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for the mayor, told Civil Beat that IHS was the sole bidder on the contract.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story noted that during his Thursday media availability, Caldwell declined to discuss how many bids were received.

The facility, dubbed Hale Mauliola, will feature 63 housing units made out of “modified shipping containers” to accommodate up to 39 individuals and 24 couples.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell discusses the layout of the ADA showers and restrooms in Sand Island homeless community during press conference held at Sand Island. 2 june 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Mayor Kirk Caldwell discussed an earlier version of the plan for a Sand Island homeless community last month.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

When outlining the plan for the facility last month, Caldwell said it would house up to 100 people, but he said the city incorporated the feedback it received from service providers and tweaked the terms of the request for proposals to make room for homeless couples.

If the operation proves successful, the city will be open to working with IHS to make it available to homeless families with children, Caldwell added.

“This is a pilot,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to probably tweak it, improve it and do more of the same around our communities — because we have huge challenges to get more people into the shelters.”

Caldwell said what sets Hale Mauliola apart from past efforts to house homeless people is that it offers “wraparound” services to its residents.

“We’re allowing a low barrier to entry — you can come in with your challenges … and get the support to get you off drug addiction or alcohol addiction, or treatment for some type of mental illness. That’s different,” he said.

Connie Mitchell, executive director of IHS, said the facility will bring something new to the city’s homelessness response system.

“People who don’t want to go into existing shelters might come into this shelter option because there is a difference,” Mitchell said. “You can bring pets, and there’s more privacy. You don’t have to worry about things being stolen.”

Bids for a separate contract to build the facility will be accepted until July 8, but the Honolulu Department of Facility Management will start laying the groundwork for the construction at the Sand Island site as early as next week, said Eduardo Manglallan, the department’s deputy director.

Sandra Pfund, director of the city’s Office of Strategic Development, said the facility will be up and running by the fall and serve about 250 people during the first year.

IHS was also awarded a separate, $500,000 contract to spearhead the city’s Community Assistance Program, a new initiative that brings together four partner agencies to address chronic homelessness in the Kalihi, Palama, Kapalama, Iwilei and downtown/Chinatown areas.

Under the contract, IHS will work with Mental Health Kokua to serve the mentally ill in the areas, while St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church and We Are Oceania will serve people from Compact of Free Association nations for case management and interpretation needs. And Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii will meet the legal needs of homeless people in the areas.

“We’re so excited to have this group of people working together to make sure that we get more people into programs and housing to address our problems with homelessness,” Caldwell said.

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