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Emergency housing project for homeless has blessing

Project is turning vacant UH-MC dorms into 12 units

A project to transform former UH-Maui College dorms into emergency housing for the homeless was blessed Tuesday. It’s anticipated to be finished in early 2021. MAUI COUNTY photos

The Maui News

A project to transform the old University of Hawaii Maui College dorms into emergency housing for the homeless was blessed Tuesday, with completion anticipated in early 2021, the county announced.

The county Department of Housing and Human Concerns, with the help of the Planning Department, is looking to repurpose the old dorms, which were built in 1981 across from the college and have sat vacant since 2008. Last year the Maui County Council approved a bill allowing Mayor Michael Victorino to make an agreement with the state to build emergency housing at the site on the corner of Wahinepio and Kaahumanu avenues.

The project’s first phase will be 12 two-bedroom units in three former dorm buildings. The project will also include a separate community center building with laundry facilities and office space for wraparound social services. The county is currently evaluating whether more housing units could be added in future phases.

The project is called Huliau, which means a “turning point, time of change.”

Kahu Kapono‘ai Molitau conducts a blessing Tuesday morning for the Huliau housing project at the former UH-Maui College dorms in Kahului.

On Tuesday, Victorino thanked state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Rep. Troy Hashimoto and the council for helping to secure funding for the project, which totaled about $4.7 million, including $4.12 million to Arisumi Bros. for construction, $385,250 to consultant PBR Hawaii for the environmental assessment, special management area permit and change in zoning; and $185,480 to Maui Architectural Group.

The money came out of the Dwelling Unit Revolving Funds through the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp.

Once the project is complete, support for property management and wraparound services for the residents will be provided through Ohana Zone funding, which the Legislature set aside in 2018 to help address homelessness statewide.

In a future partnership with UH-MC, student interns will assist Huliau residents with financial literacy, case management and hygiene/social services.

While there were concerns about the condition of the buildings, contractor Arisumi Bros. reported that they were in better condition than anticipated, the county said. Renovations are focused on gutting and replacing the interior spaces, checking for structural damage and making repairs.

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