What Can Happen When the People Put Their Heads and Hearts Together
Gregg K. Kakesako
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
“We built it!”
It took Hawai‘i businessman Duane Kurisu just six months and one day to develop Kahauiki Village — a public-private housing project that is fulfilling his dream “to build a community,” not just a shelter for O‘ahu’s homeless.
Last summer, there was nothing on the 11.3-acre parcel makai (oceanside) of Nimitz Highway, just east of the Honolulu airport. No roads, no sewers, no electricity, no water — just weeds, shrubbery, a homeless encampment and a paintball field near Ke‘ehi Lagoon.
Today, a black asphalt road surrounds the $12.4 million Phase One compound consisting of 30 prefab housing units — 18 two-bedroom homes and 12 one-bedroom homes — plus, a community center and a police workstation. A childcare center, a preschool and a sundry store were also built on the site to support the 51 adult residents and their 64 children.
Work on the remaining 120 prefab units designed to house another 620 adults and children is expected to begin soon.
Kurisu describes Kahauiki Village as the first community effort, nationwide, to build more than just a homeless shelter, as it will make available support services on-site for all of the residents, the adults as well as the children. He noted also that Kahauiki Village is powered by “a clean-energy power system, which is a first in the world,” relying on solar power and back-up generators.
At the Jan. 12 blessing ceremony, Kurisu said his biggest commitment was to try to build a community with permanent housing, relying on the donations of materials and sweat from nearly 100 businesses, community organizations and individuals.
“This is what can happen when Hawai‘i puts their heads together with heart, with mind, with resources, without any expectation for personal gain,” said Kurisu in prepared remarks. “So many of us have put our ‘all’ into Kahauiki Village so that we can leave a better world for our children and grandchildren, and children and grandchildren of others . . . A dignified world . . . One filled with love, hopes and dreams.”
Tears of joy flowed from many who attended the formal opening, from developer Kurisu; to Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services ..
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If you would like to support the Kahauiki Village effort, monetary donations can be mailed to: aio Foundation, 1000 Bishop St., Suite 202, Honolulu, HI 96813.
Gregg K. Kakesako worked for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Gannett News Service and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for more than four decades as a government, political and military affairs reporter and assistant city editor.