QUESTION: Whatever happened to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 90-day plan to mitigate homelessness?
ANSWER: The effort kicked off in May 2011 and concluded three months later as planned — just in time for a large group of dignitaries and thousands of international journalists to descend on Oahu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November.
According to numbers provided by the Governor’s Office, the coordinated effort among government, community groups, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, shelters and outreach services resulted in more than 445 homeless people being moved off the streets and into emergency shelters — including 200 individuals helped in Waikiki, 85 helped in Waianae, 136 on Hawaii island, 65 on Maui and 44 on Kauai.
"What we’ve achieved so far was not easy, but we’ve seen measurable success because everyone came together to assist individuals who needed a hand," Abercrombie said in an August 2011 news release. "We will be relentless in doing whatever it takes — in housing, in services, and in caring for one another — to end homelessness in Hawaii."
During a news conference announcing the results of the program Abercrombie shot down talk that the effort was connected to APEC.
"The kind of speculation that’s out there about APEC and homelessness only detracts from — and is dysfunctional in terms of — the game plan that we have operating," he said at the time. "To the degree APEC benefits or doesn’t benefit from whatever we’re doing here, all well and good. Our focus is on homelessness and ending it."
Shortly after the 90-day program came to a close, Abercrombie convened the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, which he established through executive order the previous month.
The council drafted a plan to end homelessness, which is available on the governor’s website. Its goals include, but are not limited to, preventing homelessness, increasing access to affordable housing and improving health and economic stability.
Colin Kippen, the state’s homelessness coordinator, said recently in an email statement provided by the governor’s office that "The 90-day plan paved the way for positive change in how we view and take effective action to address the complex issue of homelessness."
Kippen continued, "We are succeeding in fostering collaboration between the state, counties, private sector, nonprofits and community groups, and increasing our understanding of the interrelationships that must exist for us to end homelessness. The simple fact is that government alone cannot end homelessness."
This update was written by Sarah Zoellick. Suggest a topic for “Whatever Happened To…” by writing Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.