A year ago, some 300 people were living in tents in Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park — many with small children. Today, the population has dwindled to about 50 as state agencies and community partners worked together to get people off the streets and into housing.
This teamwork has also produced the state’s new Family Assessment Center — turning a musty Kaka‘ako shed into a helping hand for homeless families. From contractors who donated their time to state departments who fast-tracked the project through the governor’s emergency proclamations, the goal was to rethink how best to help families with kids — and break the cycle of homelessness, said Scott Morishige, the governor’s homelessness coordinator.
“It’s amazing what a year can bring,” Gov. David Ige said at the blessing ceremony last month. “To think what this site looked like, what Kaka‘ako looked like, 12 or 16 months ago — it truly has been a remarkable transformation.”
The center, operated by Catholic Charities, will offer short-term shelter and aims to move homeless families quickly into more permanent housing. “The tide is turning,” said Morishige.“Our state is moving forward with a unified strategy (of) affordable housing, health and human services, and public safety.”