LIHU‘E — The groundbreaking and blessing ceremony of the county and Women In Need Ohana Zone project was held on Pua Loke Street Thursday morning.
It’s a housing project called “Kealaula,” which means “A community’s brighten path, a glowing or gleaming light out of darkness,” geared toward providing shelter and services for houseless families on Kaua‘i, according to Women In Need Clinical Director Kimberly Cummings.
She explained the plan is for the Ohana Zone to have 22 units, including a laundry facility, onsite office for support services operated by WIN in collaboration with local agencies like Malama Pono, Family Life Center, Hale ‘Opi‘o Kaua‘i Inc., Kauai Community Alliances, Catholic Charities, office of the governor, county agencies, Kauai Economic Opportunity and many more.
“I’m super excited to actually be a part of the houseless issue’s solution. We’ve been serving the community since our inception here on Kaua‘i back in 2004,” Cummings said. “Moving forward, we are going to be, hopefully, a one-stop shop, where we have treatment, transitional housing, and now we are going to have permanent supportive housing.”
While the project is the culmination of many ideas from many organizations, civil servants and community leaders, the name was chosen by Prevention Counselor Leialoha Sanchez.
“After I was told about what this project could mean to a family, I realized it would be the feeling of hope that moves people, that is why I chose Kealaula, because hope is like the light coming out of the darkness,” Sanchez said.
Among those who attended the groundbreaking was KEO CEO Mabel Ferreiro-Fujiuchi, who said the occasion sparks hope for Kaua‘i community members.
“We have the shelter and transitional housing, so we are hoping that some of them can get more permanent in their housing situations, “ Ferreiro-Fujiuchi said.
County Housing Agency Director Adam Roversi was excited to see the project reach the point of groundbreaking.
“It’s awesome. It’s great that we are able to get this project to this point as fast as we did,” he said.
“We are used to county projects taking two to three years to get off the ground. This was really fast. So we are excited, and I hope we will be back in just a couple of months” to officially open the project, Roversi said.
“We will be doing the same thing right across the street, where we will be building a 53-unit rental project. When both projects are completed it will be a great resource for the community.”
Mayor Derek Kawakami and County Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro were among a few selected officials to speak. Both expressed their sincerity of what this project means to the community and what an accomplishment it is to see it progress.
Right before the groundbreaking moment, kahu Jade Wai‘ale‘ale-Battad did the blessing and prayer. She pointed out an inspiring revelation about WIN’s clinical director Cummings, pointing out she once was in need of services like the ones that will be provided in the WIN Ohana Zone.
“Who would have believed back then when you were in the trenches that you would be here today to do God’s work and be a major part of this projec,t Kim?” asked Waialeale-Battad.
Kaneshiro emphasized the goals of the project — to break the cycle of houselessness and help eliminate some of the stress that comes with it.
“Growing up we was told that education was important. But I thought to myself ‘how much of a priority is school if I don’t know where I’m going to sleep or what I am going to eat?’” Kaneshiro said.
General contractor Shioi Construction’s board chair Conrad Murashige thanked everyone for pursuing this project. “We want to show the state that we can do this project quicker and better,” he said.
Organziers hope the project will be finished by the end of the summer.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.