Share story

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — An infusion of state money is helping kick-start the transformation of a vacant lot on the Big Island into a homeless village.

The homeless project called Village 9 will share space on the 35-acre (14-hectare) lot in Kona with an affordable housing development operated by the state, West Hawaii Today reported .

The County Council approved a resolution Wednesday allowing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the state that brings $184,000 to county coffers to pay for planning expenses.

Roy Takemoto, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, estimated the process would take about seven months, allowing the county to begin construction by the end of the year.

The plan was developed after Kim ordered police to evict homeless people living illegally at Old Kona Airport Park.

Initial plans called for permanent housing for at least 100 of West Hawaii’s homeless residents. Roughly 30 of those homeless residents live at Camp Kikaha in the Old Kona Industrial Area, adjacent to HOPE Services Hawaii.

“I know Camp Kikaha can’t stay there for that much longer,” said Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha. “I’m glad to see (Village 9) finally come up and hopefully it won’t take a really long time. . But we have a starting point.”

Takemoto said there will be community outreach in conjunction with the environmental assessment process. After that, there will be more public input, he said.

The county plans to use what it’s learned on the Village 9 project to work to find sites and build assessment centers in Hilo, Pahoa and Ka’u, where counts show the need is greatest.

___

Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com