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Government & Politics

Update on State's Homelessness Plans

Wayne Yoshioka

The Hawai’i Interagency Council on Homelessness conducted its quarterly meeting today and provided updated plans.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Gavin Thornton, co-executive director, Hawai'i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice

There are approximately 17-hundred chronically homeless individuals statewide, with mental illness or substance abuse issues, living on streets or in parks for one-to-3 years.  That, according to January’s point-in-time count.  The Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice drafted a preliminary cost-benefit analysis for providing permanent supportive housing and services for the chronically homeless.  Gavin Thronton is the Appleseed Center’s co-executive director.


“We calculated that an investment of $7-hundred-sixty-six million would be required over the next ten years to house our chronically homeless population.  Potentially, by doing this, over $2-billion in cost savings, primarily from medical expenses.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
HPD Sergeant Joseph O'Neal is in charge of daily operations in Chinatown homeless project

Thornton says the study is in its beginning stages awaiting input from various agencies.  The Honolulu Police Department Community Outreach Division is leading the homeless shelter and services effort in Chinatown.  Sergeant Joseph O’Neal is in charge of daily operations.


“For 2018, our larger evening outreaches, this is when we try to get together all the partners, we’ve been able to get 107 people into shelters.  That’s between April and August, when the evening outreach started.  We estimate the average weekly savings as somewhere around a $100-thousand or more and that’s what would be in costs for emergency room visits.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
James Pakele provided an update for Pu'uhonua 'o Wai'anae plans

HPD plans to expand the outreach program island-wide and will be asking for 2 HPD sergeants and 8 officers in the 2020 budget.  Pu’uhonua o’ Wai’anae is also developing plans to move its 220 residents out of state conservation land.  James Pakele provided an update.


“We’re trying to look at another piece of property and set ‘em up so we can use communal living type things to bring down the cost of living.  You know, like a centralized kitchen and bathroom area so that when we run plumbing, we going run plumbing from one place.  Then we can build tiny homes around.  I mean, you know, everybody going have to pay something, but we trying to keep it under maybe $120, under $100 if we can, per month, per household.”


The Governor’s homelessness coordinator, Scott Morishige, also chair’s the Interagency Council on Homelessness.  He says they are updating their 10-year strategic plan and trying to close the loop on homeless data.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Scott Morishige chairs the Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness

“I think we’ve seen the numbers in the homeless count go down two years in a row by 18 percent.  We’ve also seen the number of beds for permanent supportive housing increase.  What we really need to get a better handle on is looking at recidivism.  How many people may be falling back into homelessness versus the number of individuals who are newly homeless.”


Their next meeting is December 17th.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness Update

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