- Associated Press - Friday, July 15, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The state is moving forward with plans to build a community of more than 200 affordable housing units in Honolulu as part of an effort to address Hawaii’s homelessness problem.

The modular homes were purchased by Hawaii businessman Duane Kurisu in 2011, when they were used to house more than 5,000 people displaced by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. Kurisu is overseeing the development of the planned Kahauiki Village.

“He stepped up and he helped. He had these homes built, these Komatsu homes and they helped house thousands of people who lost their homes after the earthquake and tsunami and get people back on their feet. And now it comes full circle. From aloha to Japan, to aloha for Hawaii’s homeless,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

As part of the public-private partnership, the state has agreed to lease the property for a $1 a year for the next 20 years. Honolulu is covering the $4 million needed to install water and sewer lines.

Families living in the modular homes will pay between $400 and $500 a month, which will go toward “maintenance, security, onsite management, a fund to make sure the houses look decent 10, 20-years from now,” Kurisu said.

He plans for the project to be modeled after old plantation communities.

“Our goal is to make the homes reminiscent of how the homes looked like when we grew up,” Kurisu said. “In between homes, you will see gardens. We envision breadfruit, banana and other fruit trees around the village.”

Kurisu said he hopes to begin work on the first phase of homes by the start of 2017.

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