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Oahu Plans Homeless Project With Temporary Service Center

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Cory Lum/Civil Beat
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A pilot project aimed at reducing problems related to Oahu's homeless population is scheduled to begin offering a temporary hub for homeless services, officials said.

The two-pronged approach to reducing homelessness and related crime will include a crackdown on violations and the opening of a "navigation center," The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

Waipahu Cultural Garden Park northeast of Honolulu will host the center offering a range of social services called the Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons.

The temporary center located at Hawaii's Plantation Village will be made of inflatable, wind-resistant structures. The center that will remain no longer than 90 days before the project is relocated to a different city park.

"It's never been done before," said Capt. Mike Lambert of the Honolulu Police Department. "It's the first of its kind in the nation."

The three-year pilot project is budgeted to cost $6 million from $30 million in funding previously approved by state legislators.

The center will be surrounded by a 5-mile (8-kilometer) area policed with zero tolerance for illegal activity, officials said.

Lambert, who leads the department's homeless efforts, came up with the idea for a navigation center covering an area of 50-by-50 yards (46-by-46 meters) after finding officers had few options to deal with homelessness.

"All we did was enforcement and it just wasn't working," Lambert said. "It was also unfair because there weren't any services."

The idea brings together many practices already in use with the intention of helping homeless people take the first steps toward getting off the streets. That includes kennel space for pets, which is not allowed in traditional homeless shelters, officials said.

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