May 2020 - When Ketsy, Michiosy and their three children moved out of a Honolulu apartment a week before Christmas, they didn’t know when they might live under their own roof again. Despite both parents working full time, the $1800 rental payment was always going to be more than they could afford and still feed their family. They left home that day with suitcases of clothes and a few small possessions. They gave their furniture and other items to neighbors who were also in need.
With no relatives in Hawaii, there wasn't anyone to take them in. Instead, the family found their way to IHS’ Family Shelter on Kaaahi Street. In recounting that experience, Ketsy says, “IHS is like a giant, bright open door with light pouring out of it where families can find all these helpful people and resources.”
IHS case manager, Dee, has provided intensive counseling and support during the past few months and connected them to resources to improve their eligibility for housing consideration at Kahauiki Village. The family has made the most of their situation and have fully embraced the services and opportunities available to them while living at the shelter.
For Ketsy’s oldest child Michian, who celebrated her 12th birthday at the Kaaahi Street shelter, the news of having a home for the family was the best birthday gift ever. Michian and her two siblings have loved their time in the care of IHS. Their experience included activities and playmates, as well as laughter and learning. Four year-old Mary Jade is learning shapes and the alphabet. Children really don’t grasp homelessness and hardship as parents do.
Ketsy and Michiosy are no strangers to adversity. They have spent their entire lives trying to build a better future. Ketsy lived in Chuuk, one of the poorest states of Micronesia. Fleeing poverty, her parents moved Ketsy, at the age of 7, and her 10 siblings to Guam. In their new homeland, Ketsy met Michiosy as teenagers.
Ketsy attributes her positive outlook to her father’s influence. She remembers her father for his greatest quality. He was brave, she says. Courage would be a sustaining gift that she would carry with her long after her father’s death.
“What I learned growing up was that courage can carry you through anything. God gives you a very hard situation to learn, and this phase in our life has been a test of courage. There is always a way up and out.”
Moving in to Kahauiki Village is a dream come true. Each has worked hard to earn the privilege of moving there. On May 7, 2020, they became the 100th family to move in. This affordable housing development was created by visionary Duane Kurisu, who set out to recreate a tight-knit support system that resembles the plantation-style community in which he was raised.
To qualify for housing in the village, families must meet certain criteria: at least one working parent; children in school; and responsibility for a monthly rental payment of $725 to $900. With incidences of homelessness rising in the wake of COVID-19, there is renewed urgency to complete development of the village, which will make it possible to welcome more than 40 homeless families by the end of 2020.
For the first time in years, Ketsy has the time and energy to take a longer view on life. She sees this journey to housing as one that will help her family take the next step toward improving their quality of life. She hopes to re-enroll in school and find her way to a living wage, to better support the family.
All of us at IHS are so excited that this ohana now has a home to call their own. You can see the delight of their youngest child Mary Jade as she opened her housewarming gift within her first few moments of stepping inside their new home.
Thank you for your support, which has made journeys like these possible.