By Big Island Now| October 24, 2021, 7:00 AM HST * Updated October 23, 4:28 PM
HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (HOPE) is in the process of constructing its first affordable housing project for seniors experiencing homelessness.
Located in Pāhoa, the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project (SHAHP) will consist of 12 480-square-foot modular studio units, which were purchased from HPM Building Supply. SHAHP will be on the same site as HOPE’s Sacred Heart Shelter, the micro-unit village erected in 2018 to house seniors displaced by the Kīlauea eruption.
“No person should be priced out of their home, but that is the consequence of rising property values, and our kūpuna on fixed incomes are suffering,” said HOPE’s CEO Brandee Menino. “This project will provide permanent homes for at least a dozen houseless seniors, and I hope it will inspire more like it.”
Last year, 10% of those who received homeless services in Hawaiʻi County were senior citizens, and the vast majority of those seeking assistance were long-term or lifelong residents.
Menino said one way to help is by supporting projects that use lower-cost building materials, such as factory-built housing, which has been used to provide safe and high-quality housing around the world for decades. Another way to help is by defraying the expenses of nonprofit organizations that provide affordable housing.
In order to help cover the cost of SHAHP, HOPE will soon launch its Home Design Contest, which invites a dozen community partners to furnish and decorate the new units, using information about future residents to help them feel at home.
At the time of publication, HOPE Services has secured commitments from seven community partners including Bay Clinic, HMSA, HFS Federal Credit Union, East Hawaiʻi Vicariate (Catholic parishes), HELCO, Creative Arts/Aloha Grown, and the Hawaiʻi County Mayor’s Office. The agency is looking for five more partners. After the units are completed, the public will be invited to vote for their favorites online, with the most popular designs announced at the blessing ceremony slated for mid-January 2022.
“We’re thankful for those who have already joined us and excited to welcome new partners,” Menino said. “This is an opportunity for our community members to make a significant, positive impact on the life of a kūpuna in need.”