City employees serve notice that belongings must be moved off sidewalks.
Image: ashley L. angello

The city plans to dish out $3.5 million from its Affordable Housing Fund and either purchase or renovate a structure to provide transitional housing for Honolulu’s special needs homeless population.

“Our community has invested considerable effort and resources in addressing homelessness,” Mayor Peter Carlisle said in a statement, “but there remains a population whose disabilities or chronic conditions make it difficult for them to participate in traditional shelter programs.”

Carlisle is referring to those homeless with mental illnesses, addictions and physical disabilities. This particular effort–known as the Pathways Project– will cater specifically to them. The project still hasn’t nailed down any details though, and potential sites for the new housing have yet to be identified. But the city has issued a request for proposals inviting non-profit agencies who are interested in partnering with the city. Proposals are due by May 30, and an agency will be selected in June.

Once appointed, the partnering agency–or agencies–will be tasked with launching a community planning effort to figure out the details of where the structure will reside. Depending on the community’s opinion of the idea, this could be the hardest part. Both Carlisle and city officials have expressed their preferences for urban Honolulu, as that is where the majority of Honolulu’s special needs homeless reside.