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Saturday, May 27, 2023
Green Opens First Homeless 'Kauhale'
By News Release @ 4:24 AM :: 3016 Views :: Homelessness


Office of the Governor Press Release, May 26, 2023

HONOLULU, HI – Governor Josh Green, M.D. hosted a blessing today for the first kauhale site built under his Administration. The medical respite kauhale, named Pūlama Ola, is housed in the backyard of the Governor’s residence on the grounds of the Department of Health parking lot. This community housing project will serve inpatient and emergency room patients discharged from urban Honolulu hospitals who would otherwise exit medical care into homelessness.

Governor Green opened the ceremony, providing details of the project constructed by the nonprofit HomeAid Hawai‘i (HAH), that will be operated by Project Vision Hawaiʻi (PVH).

“By embracing the idea of ‘yes in my backyard,’ we have the power to create a more compassionate community that nurtures change from within. Our partners who have made this kauhale a reality have shown us that excellence and care can be emulated, and that by working together, we can achieve long-lasting change,” said Governor Green. “Just as aloha comes from within and is shared outwardly, we too can embody the spirit of aloha and inspire others to do the same.”

The medical respite kauhale, intended for hospital-discharged patients who do not require skilled nursing, but need a safe and stable place to continue to recover, will include round-the-clock staffing for intake, supervision, and care coordination. Registered nurses will also be on staff to make daily rounds for basic care needs.

“A project of this nature highlights this Administration’s dedication to serving our unsheltered neighbors and finding solutions to the realities facing the unsheltered folks in our community,” said James Koshiba, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “An immediate response to the need for medical respite highlights the bold, quick action necessary to tackle the issues immediately as we create long-term, permanent solutions toward deeply affordable housing for our unhoused neighbors statewide.”

Unlike the state’s plan for permanent kauhale villages, which may include tiny homes, multi-family dwellings, apartment buildings, or other feasible forms – all run with a collaborative community-based focus, the medical respite kauhale is temporary.

The state is simultaneously working with private and community-based partners to make available additional medical respite space within existing community facilities. As these spaces become available, the need for the medical respite kauhale will decline and units will be relocated to other areas, with the intention of being used at a long-term kauhale site.

“Our value engineering brought a near half-million project cost down to $300k, which was then incurred as a contribution from private donors,” says HomeAid Hawaiʻi Executive Director Kimo Carvalho. “Pūlama Ola is a testament to how improved policy and access to resources make it possible to mobilize our partners in developing this site in record time.” Carvalho added, “HomeAid Hawaiʻi and its partners are honored to gift this kauhale to the State of Hawaiʻi.”

HomeAid Hawaiʻi is a convener for developers, funders, providers, and homeless to co-design and build reduced-cost housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness. The true cost for Pūlama Ola is estimated at $471,500. Through HomeAid Hawaiʻi, 100 percent of the costs were donated through volunteer labor, in-kind material and supplies, and financial contributions from The Queen’s Health System, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, HMSA, and Home Depot. The true construction and development costs include planning and design, site preparations, infrastructure connectivity, furnishings, fencing, and safety precautions. The project is estimated to save taxpayers an estimated $800,000 per year in proper discharge planning for medically frail homeless not utilizing hospitals for step-down care.

“What a great day this is! Under Governor Green’s leadership, it took many people and organizations to get here today, all with the goal of providing a place for the houseless community,” said The Queen’s Health System President and CEO Jill Hoggard Green, Ph.D., R.N. “This will help our houseless population by giving them resources and respite to be in a safe place and not on the streets.”

“We applaud the Green Administration’s effort to bring together public and private partners to tackle this issue of access to medical care for some of our most vulnerable residents,” added First Hawaiian Bank Chairman, President, and CEO Bob Harrison. “Pūlama Ola is an important initiative that will play a crucial role in uplifting Hawaiʻi’s communities, and the bank is honored to be a partner in this initiative.”

“Homelessness in a person who has a chronic disease is both a social and health care issue. This kauhale program is an ingenious and innovative way to address both. HMSA is proud to support this community effort, which aligns with our mission to create a healthier Hawaiʻi,” said HMSA President and CEO Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Capitol District state employees also banded together to support the initiative in their backyard earlier this week, collaboratively assembling furniture and putting the final touches on the units.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa conducted a traditional Hawaiian blessing of each room within the 10-unit village, which also includes a nurse’s station and a publicly accessible hygiene trailer.

Pūlama Ola speaks to a person’s embrace of life, of health, of potential  ̶  and the kauhale’s embrace of those who seek that health and life. E Ola!

Media assets  ̶  credit to Office of the Governor:

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Office of the Governor Press Release, May 9, 2023

HONOLULU, HI  ̶  Governor Josh Green, M.D., celebrated the arrival of the first units for Hawai‘i’s first medical respite kauhale, or village, steps away from the State Capitol, his home, the State Departments of Health and Education, and across the street from The Queen’s Medical Center.

“We are building a medical respite kauhale in our own backyard because in many ways it is an epicenter of people suffering from a lack of care and hygiene support – and because we want to lead by example,” said Governor Green. “We need to say ‘yes in my backyard.’ We can and will welcome partnerships to provide the services they need to put them on a path toward healing; we can and will show aloha to our neighbors.”

The 10-unit village is being constructed by nonprofit HomeAid Hawaii in the mauka-most section of the Department of Health parking lot, will be completely fenced and will have 24-hour private security. A separate hygiene trailer is being provided by the nonprofit Project VisionHawaiʻi (PVH), which will provide round-the-clock staffing at the kauhale for intake, supervision and care coordination. PVH will also provide registered nurses who will make daily rounds.

The hygiene trailer will be available for all housed and unhoused neighbors in the community that need a hot shower or to use the restroom.

“By adding these resources and the infrastructure which is quite substantial, it moves us into a safer place, not a more risky place. Action of this sort has been sorely needed, in order to avoid a large explosion of need, as we’ve seen elsewhere around the island,” said Governor Green. “Additionally, you’re going to have dedicated security and the focus of the multiple agencies to provide services here on the spot.”

The Capitol District kauhale design, like previous kauhale designs in Wai‘anae and Kapolei, is responsive to feedback and addresses surrounding community needs. “The design process accounted for the privacy of both kauhale residents and state employees who park in the adjacent lot, as well as people who walk through the area to get to their offices,” said Chief Housing Officer Nani Medeiros. “The exterior design is inspired by the ‘ōhiʻa lehua blossom, which is often the first to bloom after a lava flow and which embodies resiliency and thriving amid destruction,” she said.

The groundbreaking medical respite facility will serve people experiencing homelessness who are released from hospital inpatient beds, as well as people without homes who are discharged from the emergency room and have nowhere to go.

“It is important to emphasize that this is a temporary kauhale for medical respite,” said James Koshiba, Governor Green’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “It is designed to address a gap in our current systems that discharge medically frail people back into homelessness. This is one step in the process, while we also work to open up respite beds in existing community facilities in about six months.”

The most familiar type of kauhale to date comprise tiny homes, but the broader concept encompasses multi-family dwellings, including apartment buildings.

“These are intended to be spaces where communities are built, whether they are temporary or permanent. No matter what it looks like, kauhale are spaces where people take care of each other and take care of the place together, and that includes having support from surrounding neighbors, and that’s us,” said Koshiba.

The medical respite kauhale is expected to receive its first residents before the end of May, preceeded by a Community Day. That day, donated goods will be delivered, and Capitol District state employees will volunteer to assemble bed frames, move in furniture, and put the finishing touches on the units.

Courtesy video and photos are available. Credit Office of the Governor.

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