Press "Enter" to skip to content

Green, Blangiardi unveil Waikiki high-rise homeless kauhale

Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Gov. Josh Green teamed up again Friday to announce their latest effort to reduce homelessness on Oahu by unveiling the latest “kauhale” community of formerly homeless and low- income, working residents: a first-of-its-kind Waikiki high-rise that now repre­sents home to 35 families comprising 121 adults and children.

Unlike previous kauhale built out of tiny-home structures that continue to expand across the state, the city bought the Waikiki Vista high-rise on Kapiolani Boulevard — originally the home of Tokai University and then dorm-style housing for Hawaii Pacific University — in October 2022 at a cost of $37.75 million in what Blangiardi called “a bold move.”

Waikiki Vista represents just one of “as many different possible solutions as possible” to reducing homelessness on Oahu, Green said.

The kauhale was designed to help homeless families with children.

Since late April, Waikiki Vista has become home to a mix of formerly homeless and low-income, working adults and their children — along with the first-ever home and permanent rehearsal space for the Royal Hawaiian Band on the building’s ninth floor. It’s a Wai­kiki complex that’s meant to both house struggling families and reduce the stigma of being homeless on Oahu, Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser while touring the building.

He called Waikiki Vista’s blend of residents “very therapeutic.”

He and Blangiardi admired the picturesque, elevated views of Waikiki through the windows of a 12th-floor studio apartment that is home to a parent with three children. Like the other studio units, it includes an en suite toilet and shower.

Waikiki Vista represents the newest approach between the state and city to get more homeless people off the street, especially adults who have children and are willing to work.

Unlike traditional homeless shelters or even Hawaii’s nascent kauhale concept, the adult and child residents of Waikiki Vista will live among recently homeless families and financially struggling adults and their children.

“It’s incredible,” Green told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s exceptional. It restores life.”

The new residents include Mikela Brown, 36, who was pregnant and living in a homeless shelter when she was referred to Waikiki Vista from her caseworker through the city’s “rent to work” program.

She has since given birth to her 1-month-old daughter, Kainani, and feels safe while raising a newborn.

“I feel blessed,” Brown told the Star-Advertiser in her unit. “It feels good to have stability and to feel secure.”

She pays $687 per month in rent.

Brown called the picturesque views of Waikiki “beautiful” while she recovers from childbirth and dreams of a better future for herself and Kainani.

John Mizuno, the state’s homeless coordinator, said Waikiki Vista is one of 20 homeless kauhale coming online for the state.

The next, on North King Street, will be announced in August.

It will focus on the need for another “medical respite” to triage the medical needs of homeless people in the area, Mizuno said.

Across Oahu the latest census of Oahu’s homeless population in January showed a 19 percent increase in homeless families compared with January 2023, including 635 children.

Overall, the January Point in Time Count found that Oahu’s overall homeless population jumped nearly 12 percent to 4,495 people — up from 4,028 in January 2023.

In response, all of the combined efforts by the city and state are intended to reduce homelessness across the island, Green said.

“Each and every one helps a little bit more,” Green said.
Source: The Garden Island

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply