- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Honolulu officials are planning to buy a parcel of land on Oahu’s leeward coast and build temporary housing for homeless families.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a proposal Friday that calls for the city to build up to 20 modular units that would house 75 to 90 people. It would cater to families with children and would be up and running by summer 2016, according to a news release.

The site is about a half-mile away from Waianae Boat Harbor, where about 300 people are living in a homeless encampment.

Some local residents worry about adding another homeless shelter to the area, said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, who represents Waianae.

“There was a lot of concern from the community about people feeling as if this was done so quickly, without the community having a chance to weigh in,” Shimabukuro said. “If the focus can be on housing people from Waianae, then I think it would be easier to swallow.”

Even so, Shimabukuro applauded the city for thinking outside the box for solutions to the state’s homelessness crisis.

The mayor’s office plans to talk about the proposal at upcoming neighborhood board meetings. It would cost $300,000 to acquire the land and $2 million to build the units, said Adam LeFebvre, a spokesman for Caldwell.

Twinkle Borge, the leader of the encampment in Waianae Boat Harbor, praised the city for coming up with the idea, but she was concerned about the negative reaction of some community members. She wouldn’t move there herself because she’s single, Borge said.

“The proposal itself would help a lot of people, especially in the Waianae area, the families,” Borge said. “I hope the idea don’t die. I hope that if it does work, I hope that there’s more of it.”

The city also is building temporary housing from modular units on Sand Island, near downtown Honolulu. That complex is expected to house about 85 people and to open before Christmas.

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