January 8, 2018

Renovation of the Winston Hale Apartments Adds Units for Homeless Individuals in Honolulu

Photograph of a white stucco apartment building with pedestrians and bicyclist passing on a sidewalk. In 2017 the city and county of Honolulu renovated the Winston Hale Apartments and created six new micro-units for homeless individuals. Through the city’s Housing First program, the formerly homeless residents receive wraparound supportive services to help them remain housed. Credit: Group 70

In 2017, approximately 7,220 individuals experienced homelessness in the state of Hawaii; of these, more than two-thirds were in Honolulu. To combat this problem, both the state of Hawaii and the city and county of Honolulu recently undertook Housing First initiatives, in which homeless individuals and families are given permanent housing and offered supportive services. Housing First clients are placed in existing or new housing units, given rent vouchers, and assigned a case manager to coordinate the support they need to remain housed. In 2017, the city and county of Honolulu renovated 29 out of a total of 94 units in the affordable Winston Hale Apartments and added 6 new micro-units to the building for their Housing First clients.

Making the Most of Small Spaces

Winston Hale Apartments, originally constructed in 1964, is a city-owned property consisting of 94 300-square-foot affordable studio apartments with commercial space on the ground floor. Twenty-nine apartments, which had been vacant because of water damage, were fully renovated as traditional studio units with full kitchen ranges. The city transformed the 2,800 square feet of commercial space into 6 new micro-units ranging from 220 to 300 square feet. These micro-units and 13 of the renovated studio units are leased to individuals who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. These individuals receive rent vouchers through U.S. VETS, a nonprofit organization contracted to implement the city’s Housing First program. When the renovated units and micro-units were completed, U.S. VETS immediately allocated 19 Housing First vouchers to the property. The remaining studio units were made available to general applicants earning at or below 50 or 60 percent of the area median income.

The micro-units were designed by the architecture and engineering firm Group 70 and contain innovative features meant to maximize the efficient use of the space. A slatted wall with hooks functions as flexible storage space from which residents can hang chairs, bikes, and other items when not in use. A built-in platform bed serves a dual purpose as a storage space and as a pull-out desk. The units’ partial kitchens contain open shelving and a two-burner cooktop. The units were also designed to be uplifting for residents, with window placements that allow cross-ventilation and bright, vibrant paint colors for walls. One unit is fully accessible under the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The total development cost for the micro-units was $988,000. Funding for both the rehabilitated and new units came from general obligation bonds through the Honolulu City Council.

The Winston Hale property is in an underutilized commercial area in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood, an area that the city recently targeted for blight removal and housing development. The building is next to established bus routes and one block away from a future transit stop for a planned rail line to be completed in 2025, with the first 10 miles scheduled to begin operation in 2020. The city saw the property as an opportunity to create affordable housing in a walkable and transit-accessible area, which would allow low-income residents to benefit from the new development in coming years.

Photograph of the interior of an apartment, showing a small kitchenette, a bright orange wall, and a built-in platform bed. The micro-units contain innovative features and a modern design aesthetic to maximize space efficiency and create an uplifting environment for residents. Credit: Group 70

Tackling Homelessness Through Permanent Supportive Housing

In October 2015, Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation to address homelessness in Hawaii, which was critical for expediting the production of new housing units in Honolulu. Under the yearlong proclamation order, the governor’s office exempted housing projects targeting homeless individuals from certain regulatory requirements, speeding up their development. As a result, developers completed the Winston Hale project in approximately a year, half the time it ordinarily would have taken.

In 2015, the city launched its own Housing First program. Through this program, the formerly homeless residents of Winston Hale receive case management and other services as needed. The city partners with local service providers to deliver these services. The service providers’ goal is to help clients stay in their housing. Case managers weave together the services needed for clients to remain healthy and housed, from addiction or mental health treatment to financial literacy education. Housing First clients have access to on-call support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Building on Success

The City and County of Honolulu’s Office of Housing believes that Winston Hale has accomplished its main objectives of creating affordable housing in an area targeted for transit-oriented development, maximizing the use of a city-owned asset, and demonstrating that high-quality micro-units are a viable form of housing for homeless individuals. Marc Alexander, Office of Housing executive director, reports that after an initial adjustment period, the community has welcomed the new low-income and formerly homeless residents. In addition to Winston Hale, the city helped develop several other housing projects for homeless individuals and families and has more in the pipeline. One public-private partnership currently in the construction phase, Kahauiki Village, is expected to house 600 formerly homeless adults and children.

Source:

Partners in Care. 2017. “Statewide 2017 Point In Time Count Analysis.” Accessed 4 December 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017.

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Source:

Kim Cook. 2016. “State of Hawaii Housing First Program,” presentation at 2016 Statewide Homeless Awareness Conference, Partners in Care. Accessed 11 December 2017; City and County of Honolulu Department of Customer Services. 2017. “Review of Housing First Program by University of Hawai’i shows successful outcomes after two years,” press release, 13 June. Accessed 17 November 2017; Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 8 December 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 17 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 8 December 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 17 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. n.d. “Frequently Asked Questions — All FAQs.” Accessed 17 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017.

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Source:

City and County of Honolulu Department of Customer Services. 2017. “Review of Housing First Program by University of Hawai’i shows successful outcomes after two years,” press release, 13 June. Accessed 17 November 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander, executive director, City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Housing; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; University of Hawai‘i Center on the Family, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness, and Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division—Homeless Programs Office, Hawaii Department of Human Services. 2016. “Report to the Twenty-Eighth Hawai’i State Legislature 2016,” 9. Accessed 17 November 2017; Kim Cook. 2016. “State of Hawaii Housing First Program,” presentation at 2016 Statewide Homeless Awareness Conference, Partners in Care. Accessed 11 December 2017.

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Source:

Group interview with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor; Marc Alexander; and Sandra Pfund, director, City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management, 15 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, public information officer, City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor, 16 November 2017; City and County of Honolulu Department of Land Management. n.d. “Housing Projects.” Accessed 17 November 2017; Kahauiki Village. n.d. “Project Plan.” Accessed 17 November 2017; Email correspondence with Andrew Pereira, 1 December 2017.

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