Despite repeated attempts to move them along, the homeless who live underneath the H1 Freeway in Mapunapuna have become a fixture.
City Councilman Joey Manahan says one way to help the homeless improve their plight is to provide a location where they can use the bathroom, shower and wash their clothes.
“For me, there’s always a need out there for hygiene centers,” said Manahan. “If you run it as an intake center, you can teach somebody self-sufficiency and responsibility. For some, that’s a stepping stone that they need.”
Manahan has introduced a resolution (15-268) that asks Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration to study the idea of creating one or more hygiene centers in Mapunapuna. Manahan based his idea on a successful program in Seattle called Urban Rest Stop, which currently has two locations open seven days a week.
“I’ve been invited to speak at the opening for their third Urban Rest Stop, and they’re doing pretty amazing work,” he said. “You can tell who are returning individuals and they really keep track of who’s out there through these hygiene centers.”
Manahan’s resolution calls on the city to study the possibility of a hygiene center as close as possible to Project D.A.T.E. on Kiihau Street, a nonprofit organization run by pastor Ray Black III, who serves those living underneath the H1 Viaduct. Black tried to setup his own hygiene center several years ago, but those plans fell through.
“Cleanliness is very important in the area,” said Black. “But, we just didn’t have the funding to get the washers, the dryers and the showers established.”
Black’s Project D.A.T.E. and Living The Word Ministries is moving to a new location on Dillingham Boulevard at the end of the month, but he says he would welcome a return to Mapunapuna to set up a hygiene center if the city were to set aside funds.
“I would most definitely do whatever I can do to help with the issues that we have out here,” he said.
With the nearest hygiene center located in Chinatown at Pauahi Hale, the need for basic services in Mapunapuna is great. Black says the homeless are constantly searching for somewhere to clean themselves and their belongings.
“There’s a lot of businesses that have water spigots and everybody locks them because they’re trying to find water, clean water, as opposed to washing their clothes in the water that is out there and that can’t be sterile,” said Black.
Manahan’s resolution will likely be heard for the first time during next month’s full council meeting at Kapolei Hale.
“I’ve always felt there’s a need out there for the folks living under the bridge,” the councilman said. “If they’re not ready to get housing, at least they can come in on a regular basis, and at some point, hopefully they’ll want to take advantage of some of the services like Housing First.”