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Puna Micro-Shelter Project, Volunteers Needed

June 8, 2018, 5:04 PM HST
* Updated June 8, 6:22 PM
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The Hawai‘i National Guard’s Joint Task Force 5-0 will hold a blessing ceremony at the site of the Hope Services Hawai‘i micro-shelter project behind Sacred Heart Church in Pāhoa at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2018. 

Hawai‘i Army National Guard Maj. (Chaplain) Ray Kitagawa will join two local ministers in blessing the newly constructed micro-shelters for residents displaced by lava flows from the Kīlauea eruptions. 

Joint Task Force 5-0 has been supporting the project by providing trained construction engineers to erect the structures. 

Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 9th in Pāhoa.

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Habitat for Humanity Hawai‘i Island is seeking skilled construction volunteers for Saturday, June 9 to assist Hope Services in building temporary housing for Puna evacuees.

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They will be helping to build 21 10×20 foot HPM sheds. Each shed can be built in 3 – 4 hours with the help of a couple people each.

They are looking for seven to 10 people with construction experience to help. Lunch, waters, snacks and tools will be provided.

Work will start at 8 a.m.

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Contact Community Relations Coordinator Amanda MacIntosh if you are able to assist. Or call (808) 331-8010 ext. 110 for all the details.

1. Sign-up to be a volunteer on future projects: https://bit.ly/punarelief
Habitat for Humanity will be doing much more work in this area to help the affected families. Sign-up to be a volunteer now and we will contact you as soon as we have a new project.

2. Donate: https://bit/ly/donatepuna
You can make a donation directly to our efforts to help the affected families in the recovery.

3. Stay informed: https://bit.ly/habitatnews
Sign-up for our emails and stay informed on where our next projects will be, and what Habitat is doing to help.

What began as a conversation between concerned community members at Pu‘u Honua o Puna has turned into the construction of temporary housing options for those displaced by the lava activity in Puna. Pāhoa resident Gilbert Aguinaldo, a local Electrical and General Contractor, was discussing his vision for a congregate living space nearby, where people who have been displaced from nearby neighborhoods could continue to recover. On the other end of that conversation was Darryl Oliveira, Safety and Internal Control Manager at HPM Building Supply.

Together, they approached Hope Services Hawai‘i, leasee of 14.5 acres directly below Sacred Heart Catholic Church, to pitch the idea to construct micro-structures there. Discussions with the Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Honolulu Diocese was fruitful, their direction “to bear witness to Jesus and serve!” Conversations with the Hawai‘i County Mayor’s Office, County Planning department, and Corporation Counsel resulted in an Emergency Proclamation to support the swift movement to help provide a private space to recover to a hurting community. As of June 7, 200 volunteer contractor and friends are slated to come together on Saturday, June 9th for the Sacred Heart Shelter “Build Day.”

Project Vision Hawai‘i is deploying HiEHiE, its O‘ahu-based mobile hygiene trailer, to Hawai‘i Island for 30-days to support short-term transitional micro-housing in Pāhoa. The unit is being shipped by Young Brothers as an in-kind donation; it will arrive Tuesday, June 12. HiEHiE contains three private bathroom stalls, each complete with shower and toilet; one stall is ADA accessible and includes a diaper changing table.

Project Vision’s hygiene trailer launched in February 2018 to provide hot showers and resources to people experiencing homelessness on O‘ahu. “Project Vision is in the business of deploying health and human services statewide, so when asked to be part of the solution and help the Puna community, we said yes,” said Annie Valentin, executive director of PVH.

With the construction of twenty 120 sq. ft. micro-structure units underway, the operations team of Hope Services Hawai‘i will begin reaching out to eligible candidates to offer the units as temporary accommodations soon. Since early May, a housing survey was completed by those serviced at Pahoa’s Resource Information Assistance Center (RIAC) to determine if they were interested in the micro-structure accommodation which does not include plumbing or electricity.

Janice Ikeda, Hope’s Director of Operations, met with several community leaders to ask for their input in designing the selection criteria. “This project began as a community led initiative, so to honor that, the community needed to play a key role in establishing the selection criteria for the units. Gilbert Aguinaldo from Pu’u Honua o Puna, Ronnette Gonsalves and Auntie Maddie Greene from the Bodacious Ladies, Greg Arianoff and Mark Hauanio Board Members of the Leilani Community Association, and Ui Soares, Red Cross Volunteer and resident of Kalapana came together, shared what was important to them, and in the end, they decided what households would be a priority for this project.”

To date, 63 households have indicated interest. This week, Hope Services Hawai‘i is meeting with a County representative to determine of those 63 households, whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. This was the first prioritization criteria the community group established. After the first criteria is met, Hope Services Hawai‘i will further prioritize kupuna ages 60 and over, and then families with children under 18.

CEO Brandee Menino hopes the 20 unit project at the Catholic Church property in Pahoa will inspire other churches and property owners to create similar projects. “Before this disaster, the inventory for affordable rental units was already low. We desperately need more units. Our State legislators, Joy San Buenaventura and Russell Ruderman are working hard to creatively address some of the current barriers to creating more permanent and affordable housing. This takes time. Projects like ours in Pahoa allows displaced folks a temporary safe and private space until moving into permanent housing.”

Funding for the build & initial operational costs of this project was made possible through a $75,000 grant from Hawai‘i Island United Way, $25,000 from a Foundation affiliated with the owners on behalf of Hu Honua Bioenergy, and $10,000 from Deviants from the Norm Fund. We are grateful for the generosity of our community partners for their time, talents and treasures. It takes a village to put this project together and respond to those most in need in our community.

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