According to a new Point in Time Count, the overall number of homeless individuals and families has decreased on the neighbor islands since last year.
Earlier this year, volunteers with Bridging the Gap, a coalition of neighbor island agencies and community organizations, canvassed parks, beaches, and other areas asking people where they slept on Jan. 22. The survey seeks to count anyone who slept on the street, in a car, or in other areas not meant for human habitation.
Point in Time Counts do not capture every person experiencing homelessness, but provides a snapshot of the issue in the state. The data collected is compared county to county and year to year.
The report found an overall 2% decline in homelessness across the neighbor islands, from 2,035 people in 2018 to 1,995 in 2019. This is despite a 51% increase in homelessness on Kauaʻi compared to 2018. Officials attribute the increase to more oversight and planning, more volunteers and a better execution in the county's Point in Time Count.
According to the count, Hawaiʻi Island saw the biggest decline in homelessness at 21%. And Maui County saw a decrease of 1%.
Bridging the Gap Chair Brandee Menino said the substantial decrease on Hawaiʻi Island was a surprise since last year's Kīlauea eruption displaced so many residents. But during the January count, 67 people stated their homelessness was caused by natural disasters.
Other highlights from the report found an 11% decrease in youth homelessness, an 18% decrease in family homelessness, and a 3% decrease in veteran homelessness on the neighbor islands.
"Even though the data shows that homelessness is on the decline, there is still much work to do," said former Bridging the Gap Chair Maude Cumming. "We need to continue to invest in affordable housing, and maintain Housing First and Rapid Re-housing programs."
You can find the full report on the Hawaii Homeless Programs website.