Mayor Caldwell leads a press conference at the new Pūnāwai Rest Stop located on Kūwili Street in Iwilei.
Blessing held for new Pūnāwai Rest Stop
News Release from City and County of Honolulu, January 8, 2019
Honolulu – Today, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council member Joey Manahan led a blessing ceremony for the city’s new Pūnāwai Rest Stop located at 431 Kūwili Street in Iwilei. Misty Kela‘i, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts, blessed the new facility with pa‘akai (salt) to make sure everything is pono (just) with the new employees, the guests they will be receiving, and the Iwilei community.
Shower and laundry services will be available at the Pūnāwai Rest Stop from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days per week. Mail service is also available to guests, who can utilize the Kūwili Street address to receive their correspondence. Security guards will be on the property during all hours of operation for guest safety, and security surveillance cameras will also be in use.
“The Pūnāwai Rest Stop is a clean, safe and welcoming facility where individuals and families can come and use restrooms, shower and laundry facilities at no cost to patrons,” said City Council member Manahan, who first proposed the idea and represents the Iwilei area. “Many of Honolulu’s homeless individuals don’t have access to showers or restroom facilities, and a person experiencing homelessness would have to resort to libraries, parks, and porta potties to meet their daily hygienic needs. There are many individuals, who despite their living situation, are trying to keep their jobs. The availability of a safe, reliable and dignified place where people can get cleaned up is not only beneficial to our patrons, but also to the surrounding businesses and community.
“There are no barriers to enter the Pūnāwai Rest Stop – everyone is welcome. Our program treats homeless individuals with compassion and respect while encouraging self-sufficiency. Patrons schedule their appointments and are responsible for keeping them. This practice teaches self-respect and respect for others. This facility strives to make a difference in the community, and the staff hopes to help those in need for a chance at a clean start each day.”
The Pūnāwai Rest Stop is located on the ground floor of a four-story building on Kūwili Street that was purchased by the city in June of 2016 for $6.3 million. The name Pūnāwai refers to a spring or well of water, which is hoped to bring wellness and cleansing to the facility, its patrons and staff.
“The new Pūnāwai Rest stop will be an incredible asset to everyone trying to end homelessness on O‘ahu,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I want to thank everyone involved in this project for the hard work that went into making this first of its kind rest stop a reality. One of the most important factors in dealing with homelessness is to knock down any barriers. This facility does just that while also providing a welcoming environment for individuals, including their pets. From its shower facilities, to the mail service that’s provided, the goal of this rest stop is to treat our homeless population with compassion and understanding. We want to provide services and facilities to help people move off our streets where their lifespan is much shorter than the average person.”
The Pūnāwai Rest Stop is the first of its kind in the City and County of Honolulu and follows the successful implementation of a smaller rest stop in the Chinatown area. Eight showers are available at the new rest stop for male and female clients, including a shower for ADA clientele. The intake area allows staff to greet clients in a friendly and non-threatening environment where they will be referred to other services that are available. The rest stop is also pet friendly, as kennels are available to guests upon registration. Lockers to store personal belongings are also located nearby and the facility includes a machine that kills bed bugs with intense heat.
The Pūnāwai Rest Stop will be operated by Mental Health Kōkua, which also operates the rest stop in Chinatown. The nonprofit organization secured the bid to operate the new rest stop for one year at a cost of $1 million. The contract allows the city to extend the agreement with Mental Health Kōkua up to four times for one year extensions.
The city’s Department of Community Services and the Department of Design and Construction worked with Paradigm Construction and management company Trinity Management Group LLC to complete construction of the Pūnāwai Rest Stop at a cost of $4.3 million dollars.