Governor Josh Green, M.D. hosted a blessing for the first kauhale site built under his Administration. The medical respite kauhale, named Pūlama Ola, is housed in the backyard of the Governor’s residence on the grounds of the Department of Health parking lot.
This community housing project will serve inpatient and emergency room patients discharged from urban Honolulu hospitals who would otherwise exit medical care into homelessness.
Gov. Green opened the ceremony, providing details of the project constructed by the nonprofit HomeAid Hawai‘i, that will be operated by Project Vision Hawaiʻi.
“By embracing the idea of ‘yes in my backyard,’ we have the power to create a more compassionate community that nurtures change from within. Our partners who have made this kauhale a reality have shown us that excellence and care can be emulated, and that by working together, we can achieve long-lasting change,” said Governor Green in a news release. “Just as aloha comes from within and is shared outwardly, we too can embody the spirit of aloha and inspire others to do the same.”
The medical respite kauhale, intended for hospital-discharged patients who do not require skilled nursing, but need a safe and stable place to continue to recover, will includeround-the-clock staffing for intake, supervision, and care coordination. Registered nurses will also be on staff to make daily rounds for basic care needs.
“A project of this nature highlights this Administration’s dedication to serving our unsheltered neighbors and finding solutions to the realities facing the unsheltered folks in our community,” said James Koshiba, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “An immediate response to the need for medical respite highlights the bold, quick action necessary to tackle the issues immediately as we create long-term, permanent solutions toward deeply affordable housing for our unhoused neighbors statewide.”
Unlike the state’s plan for permanent kauhale villages, which may include tiny homes, multi-family dwellings, apartment buildings, or other feasible forms – all run with a collaborative community-based focus, the medical respite kauhale is temporary.
The state is simultaneously working with private and community-based partners to make available additional medical respite space within existing community facilities. As these spaces become available, the need for the medical respite kauhale will decline and units will be relocated to other areas, with the intention of being used at a long-term kauhale site.
“Our value engineering brought a near half-million project cost down to $300k, which was then incurred as a contribution from private donors,” said HomeAid Hawaiʻi Executive Director Kimo Carvalho. “Pūlama Ola is a testament to how improved policy and access to resources make it possible to mobilize our partners in developing this site in record time.” Carvalho added, “HomeAid Hawaiʻi and its partners are honored to gift this kauhale to the State of Hawaiʻi.”
HomeAid Hawaiʻi is a convener for developers, funders, providers, and homeless to co-design and build reduced-cost housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness. The true cost for Pūlama Ola is estimated at $471,500. Through HomeAid Hawaiʻi, 100% of the costs were donated through volunteer labor, in-kind material and supplies, and financial contributions from The Queen’s Health System, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, HMSA, and Home Depot.
The true construction and development costs include planning and design, site preparations, infrastructure connectivity, furnishings, fencing, and safety precautions. The project is estimated to save taxpayers an estimated $800,000 per year in proper discharge planning for medically frail homeless not utilizing hospitals for step-down care, according to the release.
“What a great day this is! Under Governor Green’s leadership, it took many people and organizations to get here today, all with the goal of providing a place for the houseless community,” said The Queen’s Health System President and CEO Jill Hoggard Green, Ph.D., R.N. “This will help our houseless population by giving them resources and respite to be in a safe place and not on the streets.”
“We applaud the Green Administration’s effort to bring together public and private partners to tackle this issue of access to medical care for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said First Hawaiian Bank Chairman, President, and CEO Bob Harrison. “Pūlama Ola is an important initiative that will play a crucial role in uplifting Hawaiʻi’s communities, and the bank is honored to be a partner in this initiative.”
“Homelessness in a person who has a chronic disease is both a social and health care issue. This kauhale program is an ingenious and innovative way to address both.HMSA is proud to support this community effort, which aligns with our mission to create a healthier Hawaiʻi,” said HMSA President and CEO Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Capitol District state employees also banded together to support the initiative in their backyard earlier this week, collaboratively assembling furniture and putting the final touches on the units.
Kahu Kordell Kekoa conducted a traditional Hawaiian blessing of each room within the 10-unit village, which also includes a nurse’s station and a publicly accessible hygiene trailer.