City meeting held to plan new Sand Island “Housing First” homeless transitional center

City leaders began laying out their plan for a proposed homeless center they call “Housing First” transition center at Sand Island Wednesday night.

The plan is to bridge the divide from life on the street, to permanent housing for about 100 of Oahu’s most vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals.

The city wants to is to turn this empty parcel of land adjacent to Sand Island Access Road, into what they call a safe and supportive environment.

Now to do this the city says it will bring in water, electricity, portable toilets and showers and security.

“Housing First is getting you to a housing setting first and foremost,” said Pamela Witty-Oakland from the Department of Community Service.

“This what we’re doing here contrary to the whole idea of Housing First. Housing First is permanent supportive housing. This is temporary shelter. It’s actually a tent city!” said Breene Harimoto, a Honolulu City councilmember.

Another concern voiced by opponents is that the parcel of land is unfit for living because it’s hot, dry and dirty.

It’s also just steps away from the “sandbox” BMX track where families and children gather daily to race and have fun.

“My concern is mentally unstable people hassling the families and the kids over there. and when we’re not there people taking up residency at the track,” said BMX racer Joe Limon.

In order to qualify for the proposed transition center, you must volunteer to live there, have no violent convictions for two years, and you must be a documented resident.

The cost of the initial shelter would be about $100,000.

If completed it will cost another half a million dollars to operate the facility each year.

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