Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) and Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted site visits to the Pūlama Ola Medical Respite Kauhale and the ʻImi Ola Piha Homeless Triage Center at the Institute for Human Services (IHS). The visits solidify the Senate’s initiatives to disrupt pathways to homelessness, including efforts to address drug abuse, mental health, and the cost of living in Hawaiʻi. The Governor's Coordinator on Homelessness James Koshiba, along with Executive Director for IHS Connie Mitchell, presented on these efforts.
Pūlama Ola is a medical respite village consisting of 10 tiny homes located on the mauka side of the DOH’s parking lot. This innovative kauhale community will serve as the state’s first tiny home kauhale for unhoused individuals leaving hospitals and in need of additional support on their path to healing and recovery. The 10-unit village managed by Project Vision Hawai‘i (PVH), a non-profit organization that provides health and human services, targeting communities with access to care issues such as lack of insurance, geographic challenges, cultural barriers, and limited or no income.
PVH provides around-the-clock staffing at the kauhale for intake, supervision, and care coordination, along with registered nurses who make daily rounds and a mobile hygiene unit for clients to take hot showers. Act 164, Session Laws of Hawaiʻi 2023, included $15 million in fiscal year 2023-2024 and $33 million in fiscal year 2024-2025.
“The patients at Pūlama Ola Kauhale are not just chronically homeless but are also suffering from major mental and physical illnesses, requiring long term care that Hawaiʻi’s Emergency rooms and hospitals are unable to provide,” said WAM Chair Senator Donovan Dela Cruz. “The medical kauhale is filling a continuum of care void that traditional homeless shelters like IHS’s ʻImi Ola Piha Homeless Triage Center aren’t equipped for.”
IHS is a private non-profit agency focused on ending and preventing homelessness in Hawaiʻi. The IHS site visit included a tour of the ʻImi Ola Piha Homeless Triage Center, which is the first community-based medically monitored detox facility on Oʻahu. Act 248, Session Laws of Hawaiʻi 2022, included $1.6 million as a Grant-in-Aid for IHS.
“The Pūlama Ola Kauhale and ʻImi Ola Piha Homeless Triage Center is a demonstration of two of the many ways the State is trying to address the extreme mental and healthcare needs of Hawaiʻi’s homeless,” said Senator Dela Cruz.