Stricter state standards may cause a Waipahu homeless shelter to close its doors.
       But residents are rallying around the Lighthouse Outreach Center.

       Tuesday afternoon inside the center, busy workers set up the weekly Foodbank distribution for dozens who have lined up and waited outside.
       After the sun goes down, the open-aired warehouse will be transformed into a homeless shelter.

     "Who do we help? Anyone, anybody who needs help," said Pastor Joe Hunkin.

After more than ten years of giving those down on their luck a place to go, Hunkin had to call it quits. Because the center wouldn't be able to comply with new state shelter requirements.

     "There is no way we could do it. They want us to put in partitions, and so much cubic feet for families. We have two showers and we would need more showers," said Hunkin.

     The additions and renovations would be too costly. So the difficult decision was made to close before the February 1st filing deadline.

     "We didn't get mad when we had to tell them to shut us down. We just couldn't afford it. But our hearts are still crying," added Hunkin. 

     But after hearing about the plans to close, community members have rallied around the outreach center.

     "The community saw what we were doing and I thank God. They started calling. They came here, and they are going to try their best to help us," said Hunkin.

     "When I heard about the story of the struggle the pastor was facing, and the possible eviction,
I was able to come over and by God's grace say, 'I can help'," said Waipahu resident Dennis Young.

     Even though volunteers are pitching in to keep the center open, the shelter will still need extra help from the state.

     "We've gotten some suggestions on approaching the state to request a variance, as most shelters agree the requirements are unreasonable. That give us time to make changes and raise more funds. It would be middle ground to allow the 77 people at the shelter to not be on the street,"
said shelter director Bill Hummel.
 
     "During this holiday season, the least thing we want people to worry about is being back on the streets again," added Young.