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HOPE Services

Bringing Hope

Hope ServicesTwelve modular units in Pāhoa will provide permanent homes for kūpuna in need of housing.
Photo courtesy of HOPE Services Hawai‘i, Inc.

The holidays mean different things to different people.

For Brandee Menino, CEO of HOPE Services Hawai‘i, Inc., this season means that she and her team are working extra hard so that 12 kūpuna in need of housing will have a safe, new roof over their heads by the end of the year—and that Hawai‘i County has a new pipeline to affordable housing.

On a lot adjoining the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa, a dozen small, modular houses will be assembled between mid-November and the end of 2021. Prefabrication takes many of the variables out of building, bringing costs down and putting housing within reach of those who can’t find it any other way.

In 2021, 1,515 individuals utilized homeless services in Hawai‘i County, and 48 percent of its residents qualify as ALICE—Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed—the highest rate in the state. Many are just a paycheck away from losing housing. The nonprofit HOPE Services, which provides an array of data-driven and evidence-based services to make houselessness “rare, brief, and nonrecurring,” is hoping to move the needle back towards security for Hawai‘i Island residents by forging key partnerships.

That’s where HPM Building Supply, a hardware store based on Hawai‘i Island, comes in. “When you have firsthand contact with the homeless population,” says Darryl Oliveira, HPM’s Risk Management director, “you see that it goes beyond the stereotypical picture you have. You start to see the other side of homelessness—working families, children living with their parents, living out of their car, doing their homework under a streetlight.”

Several years ago, HOPE and HPM began a partnership to build not just houses, but a new process. Although modular housing is popular elsewhere in the world, Hawai‘i has been slower to adapt, in part because the permitting processes for factory-built housing didn’t exist. HOPE and HPM have been working with Hawai‘i County to develop and streamline those processes so many others can follow in their footsteps. “Our project is helping future projects navigate the process with the County,” says Menino. “This is another pathway, and I hope it inspires many more like it.”

After three years in the making, Oliveira is excited to begin installation of the houses. “Hopefully by the holidays, we’ll start getting people in. We’re all working towards that goal,” he says. “Our goal is that there will be enough homes accessible for every person experiencing homelessness in Hawai‘i County,” says Menino. “We would love to work with different partners to develop homes like these that would remain permanently affordable for future generations.”

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