Hawaii lawmaker proposes grass huts to help homeless

Hawaiian Hale at the Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park - Nnachappa64 (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a unique idea to address Hawaii’s growing homeless issue.

“Some people call them grass shacks, some people call them huts, we call them hale,” said cultural practitioner Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.”A traditional Hawaiian home structure will have the main post and the support posts and in traditional times was thatched.”

Wong-Kalu has been in talks with lawmakers about the idea of building traditional Hawaiian homes for the homeless and now those discussions could become a reality.

“The bill would ask for possibly land, either state or private land, but to permit kind of like this Kauhale or village type homes to be built on more traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian style homes,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland.

Chun Oakland says to address Hawaii’s homeless issues all options must be weighed and these structures could be one way of doing that, but she says there is still a lot that has to be looked into.

“I think it is a pretty neat conversation and I think we can do these kind of alternative homes very tastefully,” said Chun Oakland.

Chun-Oakland says many of her colleagues are open to hearing more about this idea, but there are some who have questions and concerns.

“I know there were one or two people out of 50 that expressed concern thinking that we are going backward or that it is not the most appropriate way to live,” said Chun Oakland.” But I saw a lot of people nodding their heads especially those who grew up here.”

“My thought is why not rely on something of our own tradition,” said Wong-Kalu.

The proposed bill will be discussed further as the legislative session kicks off a week from Wednesday.


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