Thanks to a partnership with Hope Services, a dozen new homes will be available to houseless kupuna, bolstering the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Program on Hawaii Island.
PAHOA– The Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project celebrated the completion of a dozen new housing units in the Puna district. The accommodations are reserved specifically for kupuna who have been experiencing homelessness.
Hope Services operates seven shelters across the Big Island and is moving the first residents in later this month. Larry Coelho has been staying at the Hope Services shelter in Hilo.
“I can’t believe how nice it is. This is amazing,” Coelho said of the new digs.
Moving through the unit in his wheelchair, Coelho told Island News that he is looking forward to the new handicap accessible unit.
“I’m in a shelter now, it’s got about 40 men in it, and there’s not a lot of privacy or whatnot, but this is night and day. I’m gonna say, this place is amazing,” Coelho said.
Community gathered in the Puna District in celebration of the grand opening. Each of the 12 units was creatively furnished thanks to support from sponsors.
“And these are 480 square feet homes. They have their own restrooms, their own bathrooms, their own kitchens,” Hope Services Hawaii CEO Brandee Menino said.
The units are a significant addition to the complex that Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project launched here in 2018 after the Kilauea eruption.
20 units were built in a matter of one month at that time.
“That was our inspiration that hey when you bring community together and there’s opportunities for us to do more and to continue to do more,” Menino added.
The hope is the complex and partnerships will serve as a blueprint for modular housing across the state and catch the eye of the Governor. 17 residents are currently housed at the Sacred Heart shelter.
14 people will be housed in the new units. Most will be used for single occupancy, but there are two couples moving in as well.
Larry Coehlo is inhabiting one of two specialty units, accessible by ramp and offering a handicap accessible living space.
“Bathrooms made for– perfect. I mean, set up for the shower- that can roll into and get in and out of. I can’t imagine a better place,” Coelho told Island News.