State to give $5M in relief to United Way
Hawaii News

State to give $5M in relief to United Way

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A man sifted through his belongings at a homeless encampment near Kakaako Waterfront Park.

Gov. David Ige wants Aloha United Way to build on its existing efforts to combat homelessness by funneling $5 million of state money throughout the islands over the next year with the goal of immediately helping 1,300 households get off the streets or avoid becoming homeless.

Much of AUW’s efforts over the next year will go on behind the scenes and won’t be readily obvious, such as giving one-time financial assistance to homeless people — or those at risk of becoming homeless — so they can cover needs such as first month’s rent or utility bills.

But Cindy Adams, AUW’s president and CEO, said the goal is to build on existing AUW programs and merge them into the ongoing work by social service agencies on all islands to better coordinate and focus everyone’s efforts.

“For us the big push is prevention,” Adams said. “We have conversations all day long about the homeless problem — that’s what everybody says is the biggest problem in the state. If we don’t focus on prevention, we will always be trying to address the problem.”

Ige last year issued an emergency homeless proclamation that loosens procurement and other regulations when it comes to addressing homelessness. The state Department of Human Services then approached AUW with the idea of expanding some of its projects focused on homelessness, such as better utilizing AUW’s 211 phone system, which people call to get help for a range of problems.

AUW will have to figure out how to better process 211 callers who are homeless — or at risk of becoming homeless — and then steer them to the best social service agency that can help.

“We want to divert and prevent homelessness,” Adams said. “How can we leverage 211 to serve as this central coordination point? It will require new processes and changes.”

Aloha United Way, like its sibling United Ways around the country, also already administers Federal Emergency Management Agency money every year to help with one-time rental and utilities assistance and to fund community food banks.

On Oahu, AUW administers about $80,000 worth of FEMA money to go to one-time rental and utility assistance for some 60 to 80 families, said Norm Baker, AUW’s chief operating officer. An additional $75,000 from FEMA helps 205 food pantries across Oahu, he said.

The state’s $5 million contract with AUW will dramatically expand the assistance across the state. Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, said the $5 million came from the existing budget.

“So DHS reached out to us,” Baker said. “If there’s any way we can help, we want to do that.”

AUW also will be required to contract a study to look at distinct homeless populations — convicts who are just released from prison who often have no identification, financial means or housing; teenagers with no support, and youth who age out of the foster care system; the chronically homeless, who rely on hospital emergency rooms; and those who are discharged from substance abuse facilities.

The goal is to gather hard data that lead to recommendations to better prevent each of the different groups from adding to Hawaii’s homeless population.

“No one really knows the numbers,” Adams said. “We have to find out where the major problems are and identify the major motivators. We have to figure all this out. … We are not sleeping.”

AUW and the state are still negotiating the details of the one-year contract, such as how many people are expected to be helped. When the details are worked out, Baker expects that the contract could begin Feb. 15, with the possibility of a six-month extension.

“We see ourselves as the hub, taking the requests from folks who need help and steering them into the right direction,” Baker said. “We want to add this coordination, instead of just referring them (211 callers) out.”

Baker promised that the state funds will be used efficiently and fast.

“Our commitment to the state is that we will work very quickly to move that money out,” he said.

Even though AUW’s contract with the state isn’t signed, Ige announced his intention in last month’s State of the State address.

“I am also pleased to announce that the state will be investing $5 million immediately to jump-start a new public-private partnership with Aloha United Way,” Ige said. “It will provide direct funding for rapid re-housing, homeless prevention services and establish a statewide referral system. It will also develop long-term homeless strategies to address the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied youth and those with chronic health concerns.”

Morishige said AUW’s efforts are separate from Ige’s funding request to double the existing budget to add more social workers on the neighbor islands and to double the state’s neighbor island efforts to help with rent and utility costs.

“Service providers say that 25 percent are homeless primarily due to economic factors,” Morishige said. “The intention of the AUW contract is to make resources available as quickly as possible in a way that’s targeted.”

For the longer term, Morishige said, he hopes that better coordination among social service agencies and an improved 211 system “makes it so we have a more centralized system.”

All of the state’s $5 million will go directly to help people, Adams said.

AUW will use an additional $500,000 from annual AUW donations to administer the programs and to help social service agencies with their bigger administrative responsibilities.

“At a very basic level it’s impractical to expect that agencies in the community are going to increase their capacity to address a larger number of homeless people if they don’t receive some sort of funding to offset those costs,” Adams said.

By the end of the contract, Adams expects that the work will result in a more efficient, focused system that ultimately ends up easing Hawaii’s homeless problem.

But she acknowledges there won’t be any high-profile, quick fixes for a state dealing with the highest per capita homeless population in the country.

“Everybody is very frustrated, and this can’t be solved soon enough for everybody,” Adams said. “Shame on us as a community to allow this to get as big as it has. I know that’s not what people want to hear, but it is the reality of the situation.”

Comments (72)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

    • This is just the start. It seemed obvious to me that the State has no intention of trying to stem the inflow of homeless from the mainland or Micronesia. So you have to ask yourself “why?” Then it became clear that the homeless is a great excuse to funnel tax dollars to political friends. The Aloha United Way is notorious for having politicians in its pockets. This $5 million is a drop in the bucket. The State WANTS to spend more and more tax dollars on the homeless, and not find a way for the homeless to truly become self-sufficient (which would mean helping them relocated to a place where the cost of living is more affordable, but that would mean they can’t funnel tax dollars to friends). This is Hawaii folks.

    • Exactly. Who will be held accountable for our $5M tax dollars in terms of results? Ige is handing off money and his responsibilities to someone else to provide solutions. Prevention and studies are all good but I’d like to see some of that money spent directly on getting homeless off the streets right now. Adams seems to have her own ideas and agendas. Has AUW always been considered a respected research group to conduct this work? Idk? Are Ige and Adams on the same page? Plan NOW Ige! We don’t want another hear of another disaster follow up.

      • No added over sight, nor having anyone responsible for the added monies, is a total waste to the taxpayers. As a leading welfare state, our leaders keep throwing money hoping to fix a problem, but it will never work.

      • Wow, just read this article. I agree with you, dogchow, and scratched my head when I saw what Ige said the money was going to do; and then read what Adams said AUW was going to do. Two completely different things. The state can say “buh-bye” to this $5 million. Nothing will come of it. AUW will be asked what they did with this landfall and will end up saying “it’s hard to measure prevention so we can’t give you any hard statistics. But trust us, we’ve made an impact. Now give us another $5 million.” AUW is NOT a direct services provider, they are the WRONG choice to encare with this money. Let AUW continue to facilitate donations to appropriate agencies. They CANNOT handle the homeless problem.

    • IMO, the “black hole” is government. I give Ige credit in understanding that a non-government agency has a better chance of success, in dealing with the homeless problem, than a government department would. Having stated that, I think AUW has an uphill battle ahead of it as this may be beyond anyone’s ability to solve.

      • The State was never in the homeless business, its always been a City responsibility till now. Good move to give money to the folks that know how to work in that area. Just have to dog AUW to see that the money is producing results right away.

    • bleedgreen – Typical losing comment by an utterly rookie poster. Nothing but shibai. Laughable at your weak attempt.

      Should have done your due diligence and checked with Charity Navigator, agency which is the gold standard in rating charities, you did not. You would have found out AUW rates 4 stars and gives 82.6% of all money directly to helping those in need. Only 17% goes towards operating expenses.

      No city or government agency in the Nei is that efficient with their money and rail will only recoup 30% from riders.

      This is good for all taxpayers as dysfunctional state workers will not be involved, hiring relatives, wasting our money. Charity does far better at taking care of the homeless compared to our clueless state and city agencies.

      Check it out and learn what you do not know. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5895

    • Most of that money probably gets funneled into staff and executive salaries, so the return on investment is not so good when dealing with these charitable organizations.

      • AUW is not the right choice to give money to handle the program. However, your statement that “most of the money probably gets funneled into staff and executive salaries,” is ill-informed and you should never have made an unfounded statement like that. I don’t think AUW should get this money and I don’t think AUW will make good use of it; however, they ARE efficient with their operations. The majority of their donations are given to the needy and they have very little overhead. Forget Charity Navigator as localguy was referencing above, although at least that is a reference. Check out guidestar.com to see AUW’s 990 forms and you can see for yourself exactly how much they bring in, and exactly how much their expenses are. Please research before making comments that imply wrongdoing on the part of AUW and the like.

  • Article could have been more informative as to UAW administrative overhead, etc. Some so-called 501(c)3’s eat up donations and grants with excessive overhead costs, spending as little as 10% of donated monies on actual activity benefiting their so-called target groups.

    • Agree. UAW executives fly across the country in 1st class. At the very least they should be flying coach. This is the WRONG charity and it needs to be fixed from the top down.

      • Rookie posters are so laughable. It is AUW not UAW. What were you thinking?

        Check with http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5895 Charity Navigator and you learn AUW has a 4-Star rating, spends 82.6% of all their money on charity programs. 17% goes to admin which in the high priced Nei is fair.

        You have to admit no city or state agency is that efficient with their money. Exactly why Ige realized his administration is woefully prepared to do this job, brought in the experts.

        • My bad – I’m a noob and just copied what he said. I meant to reference executives at United Way, the parent organization. It is inexcusable that they pay for 1st class tickets and not coach.

        • Charity navigator is not a very reliable source. Do you have anymore? Otherwise I agree that AUW admin is making big bucks.

        • nalogirl – As a rookie poster you are excused from failing to provide a credible reference to backup your claims.

          Need to learn how to do your due diligence before making a post.

          Rookies……………

    • if AUW is using existing programs (and staff!) then 100% of our $5 million should go to assisting these folks. Hope Scott Morishige is going to be hands-on as AUW spends that $$$$

    • That’s the whole intent of non-profits. They eliminate having to pay taxes by SPENDING everything but a minor percent of their profits. Even that spending happens to be due to inefficiency or excessive salaries, so be it.

  • In this State, “go on behind the scenes” does not ring a sound ethical bell to me. Sounds just regular Government tactics to me. I mean it’s MY tax money!!! Having said that giving that job to someone other than the career politicians is a good move.

  • This is one of the best photographs of Tom Brower that I’ve seen published. Obviously, he’s received the cosmetic surgery he so desperately needed… He should probably buy a new baseball hat; the one he’s wearing is not very “Kardashian”…

  • How is it that our tax money can be given to a particular charity. Cut my taxes and let me choose when and who I want to give to. I remember when the state stopped schools from raising money for some kind of Macy’s charity and yet they push AUW in schools and now this.

    • Exactly right. Everyone has access to United Way’s phone number and can call them at any time to donate if THEY choose to. We didn’t elect these guys to give away OUR money to charities on OUR behalf. So, the good new is, I guess is that the State is all caught up on funding the State’s pension fund? No? Then WHAT are you doing GIVING away OTHER people’s money that you can’t afford to give away when your OWN obligations are not being met?

      • You misunderstand. This is not a charitable donation. They are paying UAW to do the work of state bureaucrats who cannot handle the assignment. UAW is providing social workers and administrative duties as contracted for.

        • Exactly. Ige is admitting what we all know, state agencies are utterly incompetent in this area. Mo bettah to use the money to pay professionals to do the work, getting more out of each dollar.

          Charity Navigator, gold standard of rating a charity, gives AUW 4-Stars as they spend 82.6% of all their money on charity programs, 17.4% on admin. City and state are just the opposite, spending the lower amount on charitable work, greedy unions take all the other money and still want more.

          http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5895

        • you wrong allie, it is a donation disguised as a contract. It’s still the taxpayers money and it is going to a charity so the charity can do what it does as its mission on a daily basis. the money is going to be used just like the money everyone else gives.

        • cardoc – As you failed to provide any credible references to back up your claim, it is nothing but shibai. Really low quality, gutter level, shibai.

  • I have voluntarily given to the Aloha United Way through the annual pledge drive at work. My supervisors always said giving is voluntary, but I give what I can and it feels pretty good. Some of my co-workers chose not to; some don’t have enough money, other make donations directly to nonprofit charities, other simply chose not to give. What bothers me is that by handing over $5,000,000 of taxpayer money it feels like I’m being forced to give twice, once through my payroll deductions, once through this grant. I didn’t sign up for that. Secondly, this really dishonors my colleagues’ decisions not to give to AUW. To me the whole point of AUW was that it was a community driven and funded entity, now its just another middleman with its hand out to the State. I for wone will have to rethink if I am going to participate in next year’s fund drive. If this appropriation passes, I can say that my legislators and Governor already gave for me.

  • As a widow with children I called 211 fifteen years ago in 2000.Since I had donated thousands of dollars in the decades I worked I asked for help. Ha Ha.Nada,nothing, zip.

    • from the article:

      “All of the state’s $5 million will go directly to help people, Adams said.

      AUW will use an additional $500,000 from annual AUW donations to administer the programs . . . “

  • Per the latest Federal Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) information, AUW has an “Administrative and Fundraising” rate of 20.2%. Hopefully, this percentage will not remain constant with an influx of so much money.

      • Before you start whining, how about looking at how much our city and state agencies waste out of our tax dollars. In many cases, 50% or more is not uncommon. Remember the state health connection? Total waste of money.

      • from the article:

        “All of the state’s $5 million will go directly to help people, Adams said. AUW will use an additional $500,000 from annual AUW donations to administer the programs . . . “

    • CFC information on charities is not updated regularly. When I asked a CFC member how often it is updated, they could not say. When I mentioned Charity Navigator, they agreed it was the most accurate way to check on a charity.

      Mo bettah you use the Gold Standard of charity rating agencies, Charity Navigator – http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5895

      They show AUW spending 82.6% directly on charity programs, 17.4 percent admin. When you consider the high cost of everything in the Nei, not bad.

      • UW is not charging one million to distribute 4 million. They negotiated a much lower figure than that for the work to be done. Actually, UW is a very efficient way to deliver services to a difficult population to serve.

        • Exactly. Charity Navigator shows their overall ratings in all areas.

          The babooze who posted AUW was charging 20% / $1 million, was a total clueless, rookie poster. No clue how the real world works.

          AUW will get the job done far more efficiently and more effectively than any city or state government agency. Good to see Ige admit the state’s limitations.

        • Whether its 17.4% or 20% of 5 million, that’s still a lot of money that does not go to help the homeless. Then when United Way kicks money down to other non-profits, they take an administrative fee, too, so even less gets to help the homeless. I think it’s a rip off. If you feel differently, you can donate your money to them, too. I think the money would be better service closer to the front lines, like IHS.

  • AUW is the wrong organization to be given money of the homeless. Way better to give directly to those who are on the front line working directly with the homeless.
    As far as preventing more homeless, the state and city need to encourage the building of housing for the poor. People become homeless as they can no longer afford the ever increasing
    cost of housing, pure and simple.
    Yes there are the chronic bums, drug/alcohol dependent people, and the criminal/misfit elements but what is driving the train is the lack of housing for the poor and working class.
    Shelters, tent citys, providing meals, showers, etc are just stop gap measures and do not get to the root of the problem.

  • I couldn’t even finish reading this article cuz it is so stupid. The biggest part of “PREVENTION” is stopping the arrivals from coming to Hawaii. AUW “talks about this problem all day’, WHO THE HECK IS IN THIS CONVERSATION? Must be the financial guys cuz the bigger the problem the more money AUW can get. Lets see- 211 calls with $5 million to process these calls, I calculate $25,000 to help each one, not bad!

  • NEWS FLASH!!!!! AUW’s administration fee is 20.2% according to the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign charities listing. That means AUW will keep $1.01M for themselves. The state is ran by a bunch of morons. I don’t want a single dollar of my taxes going to this rip off agency. If you want to donate to them then that’s your right but don’t be giving taxpayer money away like it’s your personal money.

  • 1. AUW accepts and spends donations and let that be…we don’t need to spend tax dollars which we already spend to on the homeless. 2. Who is the provide oversight on the AUW list of where their funds are “spent”? Used to give to AUW but stopped when they wanted to make a political statement and cut funding to a long time specific youth leadership development program.

Scroll Up