A church group building tiny homes for the homeless in Waianae is now facing some backlash.
A citation by the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting has put the project on hold.
Just a month ago Cedar Farm reached a huge milestone — building 50 eight-by-ten foot sheds to replace tents for the homeless.
But officials with the City’s planning and permitting department cited the farm, owned by Hawaii Cedar Church in Kalihi, after receiving several complaints about the group not obtaining a building permit.
“As far as anybody filing a complaint on what God has created, that’s to me, I’ll be honest, really straight up, shame on them because it’s not coming from the heart. That’s not a good thing,” said farm manager Sweets Wright. “Unless you live the life of homeless being out there, knowing what it is to fight Mother Nature, the winds and all that, you don’t know.”
Pastor Duk Whan Kim of Hawaii Cedar Church said in a statement his intentions for the homeless farm are pure and described it as a place of healing with a focus on self worth and work toward self-sufficiency. He added despite not receiving any money from the government he’s committed to addressing homelessness.
For Keone Evans, Cedar Farm has given him a sense of purpose. He moved into a tiny home in January and in return, works on the farm taking care of the goats.
“It’s a time to reflect on life really,” Evans said. “You ain’t got to really worry about bills, you ain’t got to worry about work. I mean I’m at the bottom already. It’s only up from here. But I mean to have the help, that’s hope.”
Just having a place to rest his head, shower and make meals — to him has made all the difference.
“It alleviates a lot of burdens,” he said.
But the project itself came with its own burdens — apparently the city had not approved any construction permits. So the building stopped and the group faced a triple fee penalty — a $50 initial fine and $50 daily until the violation is resolved.
However, Anton Krucky of the city’s Office of Housing, says no fines will be assessed.
“We’re not asking for those individuals to move out. This is a real turnaround for some of these individuals in their lives, for us to do that that wouldn’t be good,” he said.
The group behind the project is working on getting the right permits so the building can resume.
“That group is a courageous group,” Krucky said. “For them to be wanting to participate in solving items in our community, I think that’s just great.”
There are an additional 50 tiny houses yet to be built. Krucky did not lay out a timeline for the permit process, but says he sees this effort as a positive move for the community.
Produced in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.