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Homeless people will soon be able to apply to live at two refurbished apartment buildings in Makiki, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Monday.
“This is about … getting people off the streets into a place where they can live and be secure and start their lives again and rebuild their lives,” Caldwell said during a press conference at the apartments on the corner of Piikoi and Hassinger streets.
It’s part of his broader homelessness strategy that’s involved building units in neighborhoods from Halona Street in Waianae to Beretania Street in urban Honolulu. Homelessness has been on the rise throughout Caldwell’s time as mayor.
The city spent $6 million to buy the Makiki property in November 2015 and another $6.4 million to renovate it, Caldwell said.
The Hassinger Street project was a former school, and families with children under the age of 18 and at least one working member will get priority to live in the apartments.
The buildings include four three-bedroom units; three two-bedroom units; 24 one-bedroom units and 11 studios. Four ground-floor units are accessible to people with disabilities.
One of the one-bedroom apartments will be occupied by a building manager, and the nonprofit organization Housing Solutions will manage the property and provide services to its residents.
Potential residents must earn less than 50 percent of the area median income, which is less than $35,200 per year for an individual or $50,250 for a family of four.
A previous version of this story incorrectly wrote the dollar figures representing 50 percent of the area median income.
Applicants must have a certification from a service provider showing that they’re homeless. Those who are hoping to live in the complex can email Shanelle Lum at email@example.com.
Caldwell’s administration has embraced the concept of “scattered site Housing First,” which involves putting homeless people into units in the communities in which they already live and providing them services after they have a roof over their head.
Honolulu Councilwoman Kymberly Pine said that policymakers have learned that simply building shelters for homeless people isn’t effective. She praised the apartment project.
“We took an area that was not necessarily kept up as well as it could be … and we made it more beautiful than it was,” she said.
Pine and Caldwell said they understand that Makiki residents might be nervous about their future neighbors, but they hope the project will show that Housing First works well.
“We all have to do our part and accept homeless people and welcome them into our community and into housing,” Caldwell said.