Hawaii’s homeless population grew 6.1 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to a new state Department of Human Services report released late Friday.
The report is prepared by the state Department of Human Services’ Homeless Programs Branch and the Honolulu Department of Community Services in accordance with requirements for ongoing McKinney-Vento homeless assistance funding. It showed the total number of homeless people in Hawaii as of Jan. 25 was 6,188, up from 5,834 on the same date in 2010.
The figure includes 3,632 who spent the night in a homeless shelter as well as 2,556 who stayed at an "unsheltered" location.
The point-in-time count of sheltered individuals was conducted by survey teams on the night of Jan. 5. The unsheltered count was taken from Jan. 26 to 31 and was based on the question, "Where did you sleep on the night of Jan. 25?"
Oahu accounted for 2,912 of the 3,632, or roughly 80 percent, of the state’s total sheltered homeless population. Of this number, 514 were in households with children, 2,058 were people in families and 854 were individuals. As the report noted, "In general, there are much fewer shelter beds available to single individuals and persons in households without children."
In Hawaii County the number of sheltered homeless fell for the third year in a row. There were 229 sheltered homeless on the island this year versus 286 in 2010 and 321 in 2009.
The counts of unsheltered homeless provided some noticeable movements.
On Oahu the number of unsheltered homeless stood at 1,322 in 2011, down from 1,374 in 2010. But there was a noticeable shift from the Waianae Coast to downtown Honolulu. In 2010 the Waianae Coast had the highest concentration of unsheltered homeless with 410 unsheltered individuals (29.8 percent of the island’s total unsheltered homeless population), while downtown Honolulu recorded 394 people (28.7 percent). This year the highest concentration of unsheltered homeless is in downtown Honolulu (448 people or 33.9 percent), with Waianae accounting for just 296 people (22.4 percent).
Maui’s overall homeless count jumped 33 percent to 1,052 this year from 791 in 2010, a statistical phenomenon the report’s authors attributed to "an improved effort among outreach coordinators" to get an accurate count. The change was especially evident in the island’s count of unsheltered homeless, which totaled 658 this year compared with 399 in 2010.
Of the 508 "unaccompanied individuals" recorded in the 2011 count, 111 (21.9 percent) were considered "chronically homeless."
A total of 505 (295 unsheltered, 210 sheltered) homeless people were veterans.