- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu mayor has a new plan to address the city’s homelessness: A Sand Island community of container-style shelters for between 75 and 100 of people.

Meant for the city’s chronically homeless people, the 8-foot by 20-foot containers would hold three or four units each and lack electricity and plumbing, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1dJOjcf).

“They’ll have a place they can lock and call their own,”?said Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is scheduled to provide more details during a Tuesday news briefing.

Each 40- or 53-square-foot unit would feature battery-powered lights, said Sandy Pfund of the city’s Office of Strategic Development. The community would also have separate buildings with showers, other bathroom facilities, a communal dining area and support services.

Pfund said she anticipates opening the facility by early fall.

The new plan replaces a September proposal for a temporary tent-based transitional center, which attracted opposition from several groups and ran into a lengthy delay.

The new plan, said Caldwell, is much more user-friendly.

“People will move voluntarily if it’s a nice place to go,”?he said, noting that residents can protect their stuff in the locked units. The containers also won’t leak or blow over like a tent.

“So it’s not moving their tent and put it into another place, it’s actually moving into a more solid structure, with restrooms and all of those things for them to use in a community-like setting,” said Caldwell.

The shelter is meant to provide a transition to more permanent housing, said Gary Nakata, the city’s acting community services director. He expects people to stay in the units for about 60 days.

“It’s a portal to leave homelessness,” said Nakata.

The city is asking for proposals from vendors of modular or container-style units. Officials have also requested proposals for managing operations at the Sand Island community.

The shelters are expected to cost about $500,000, which would come out of a $32 million homeless and affordable housing fund earmarked by the City Council. Operations are expected to cost between $750,000 and $800,000 annually.

The Sand Island housing plan is being announced a day ahead of a Wednesday meeting during which the City Council is expected to take up six bills that either expand the city’s sit-lie ordinance or place other burdens on the city’s homeless community.

The agenda includes a motion to override Caldwell’s veto of a bill that would expand the sit-lie ordinance to more neighborhoods.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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