Honolulu, December 09, 2011 – On Nov. 22, vicar general Father Gary Secor flew to Kona to attend the blessing of a new housing project developed with Catholic Church assistance that will provide transitional and affordable units for families, the homeless and low-income residents.

The 40-unit Kaloko Housing Project on Hina Lani Street in Kailua has 11 two-bedroom transitional housing units, 28 units dedicated to low-income housing, and a resident manager’s apartment.

Also known as the Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini, the project was built by the County of Hawaii Office of Housing and Community Development in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaii, which will operate it.

HOPE Services Hawaii is a Catholic non-profit organization created last year to address the problem of homelessness. It evolved from the Office of Social Ministry’s Care-A-Van program.

HOPE Services chief executive officer Brandee Menino said that, in addition to shelter, the Kaloko complex will offer life skills programs and classes, case management and other assistance to help residents move out of poverty.

“We didn’t want this to be just a typical low-income housing project,” Menino said. “We want this to be a place where [residents] don’t just survive, but a place that they can thrive.”

Menino said that for a family to qualify for the low-income housing, it must earn between 30 to 50 percent of the median income. Monthly rent is $419, plus electricity.

Kaloko now represents phase one and two of a three-phase project that will eventually have 96 units. The present units are 720 square feet with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and a living space for a dining and living room. Two units are compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Photovoltaic panels provide the buildings with electricity. The transitional units are fully furnished with a dining set, sofa, beds and dressers.

HOPE services helped design the new project to be something the community can be proud of, Menino said, “from the colors in the units to the landscaping.”

Phase two is a community center — a separate building that will include meeting rooms, offices, a kitchen, classroom space, a computer center, a life skills training area and a laundry room with 10 washers and dryers.

A case manager will be there every day to help residents assess their needs and strengths and connect them with community programs.

“If they need help with parenting or budgeting, or rebuilding their credit, the case manager will be onsite during the day,” Menino said.

Menino hopes to have a health center and doctor on site weekly. She also wants to tap into the talents, time and expertise of supporters in the local community to help the residents.

“Right now it is all about building our relationships and reaching out,” Menino said. “People are already calling and asking how they can help because of the holidays.”

Phase three, which is already in development, will increase the number of Kaloko housing units to 96. The project eventually will have the potential to house 576 people.

The final phase will also have a warehouse that will serve as an employment and job-training center and will house nonprofit agencies such as Habitat for Humanity and the Food Basket.

Menino said the west side of the Big Island has had no transitional housing since Catholic Charities Hawaii’s Kawaihae Transitional Shelter closed in February.

She said HOPE Services will use its experience of running transitional housing in Hilo for more than five years as a model to operate Kaloko. Aloha Coast Realty will operate the residential leasing in cooperation with HOPE Services.

The county has been processing housing applications and residents will start moving in by the end of December.

Menino said the transitional program will serve families first, and then the homeless. Remaining vacancies will go to couples and singles.

Menino hopes Kaloko will serve as a stepping stone to permanent homes for the transitional and low-income residents, although the affordable housing occupants may stay as long as they wish.

“They can stay forever,” Menino said. “It is permanent rental, but we don’t want families to have the mentality that this is it for me.”

Dahm, Lisa “Diocese’s HOPE Services to run new Kona housing project” Hawaii Catholic Herald, 09 December. .2011. http://www.hawaiicatholicherald.org/Home/tabid/256/newsid884/3969/Default.aspx