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County sets aside $2.5M for housing

LIHU‘E — The county has pledged $2.5 million for permanent supportive housing.

The money comes from the county’s cut of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and will pair with about $1.8 million in federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Similar to the Kealaula on Pua Loke, a 29-unit, long-term-rental development for families transitioning out of houselessness, this housing will combine affordable housing with direct outreach.

“Kealaula provides safe and clean but minimalist homes to Kaua‘i residents suffering from homelessness paired with onsite social services to assist residents in getting back on their feet, and over time transitioning into regular housing situations,” County Housing Agency Director Adam Rovesi said.

Roversi said the total funding of $4.3 million is along the lines of how much it cost for Kealaula. And while a location hasn’t been found, the county is looking to target areas with high houseless populations.

“We are preliminarily hoping to site this project on the Westside, which along with the greater Lihu‘e area has the highest concentration of homelessness on Kaua‘i,” Roversi said.

“No firm site commitment has been made yet, however. We are continuing to study various locations to assess the relative infrastructure costs that would be incurred at each location.”

Kealaula was the county’s first project to specifically address houselessness and the transition from houseless to housed. During January 2020’s Point in Time count, the state reported 6,458 houseless individuals, which included over 400 on Kaua‘i.

“We believe that these monies can chip away at the inventory deficit that we have in this particular area of support that’s needed, so that’s where that 10-year mark is meant to support,” county Managing Director Michael Dahilig said last week.

As part of ARPA funds, the county also set aside $170,000 in houseless support to be used as “flex funds” that may go toward programming, assistance or additional outreach resources.

“As the name suggests, the intention is to allow our homeless program to be nimble in responding to issues and problems as they arise,” Roveri said. “Some initial ideas we have been considering are mental-health training for homeless providers, a satellite resource center in Kapa‘a, or security deposits to assist with move-ins.”

The county recently received over $7 million from ARPA for a total of about $14 million over the next two federal fiscal years.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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