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Hawai?i Homelessness Advocates Rally For Measures To Maintain Services

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Homelessness advocates rallied yesterday at the State Capitol to demand legislative action on affordable housing and homeless services.

With a deadline looming for Hawai?i lawmakers to hear bills, the advocates demanded action on a handful of measures.

House Bill 1312 would appropriate $200 million for affordable housing, with a portion of that going to house chronically homeless people.

Senate Bill 471 would provide sustained funding to homeless programs that have proven to be effective, such as housing first and diversion programs.

Other measures focus on support for individuals with mental illness and state agency funding to fight homelessness. 

Connie Mitchell, chair of Partners in Care, and executive director of the Institute for Human Services, said homelessness is the symptom of the problem.

"We are way past the boiling point of this crisis," she said. "Housing is the answer ... and we need action now."

Hawai?i has the nation’s highest per capita rate of homelessness. According to last year’s annual survey, the homeless population, both sheltered and unsheltered in the state, exceeds 6,500 individuals.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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