comscore Hawaii extends emergency declaration to fight homelessness | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Hawaii extends emergency declaration to fight homelessness

  • BRUCE ASATO / JAN. 2016

    Homeless tents have once again sprung up in the Kakaako area, along Ohe St. in the vicinity of the Children’s Discovery Center.

Hawaii officials on Tuesday extended an emergency declaration aimed at easing the highest per-capita rate of homelessness in the nation.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui announced the third extension since Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency in October.

“We not only have many households that are still living without a home, but we also have many that are just a paycheck away from falling into homelessness,” said Scott Morishige, the governor’s coordinator on homelessness.

Under the initial emergency proclamation and previous extensions, Ige released $6.3 million for homeless services statewide. Tuesday’s extension doesn’t include any additional funding, Morishige said.

The extension aims to help Maui’s effort to establish long-term housing in Wailuku to help at least 64 households with micro-units. It’s also designed to help the counties of Honolulu, Kauai and Hawaii repair and maintain shelters and build temporary and long-term housing.

“It helps those projects to come online more quickly, to better respond to the immediate need,” Morishige said.

The original emergency declaration in October came just days after the state cleared out one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.

Many people moved to shelters and long-term housing as a result of outreach conducted during the sweep, but tents and structures have sprung back up in the areas that were cleared.

On the legislative front, Ige proposed more spending in his budget proposal on programs designed to help homeless families and individuals with rent subsidies and targeted services.

He wants to double to $3 million the amount of money the state spends on Housing First, which helps people get into housing regardless of their level of sobriety, and he called for $2 million for a new rapid rehousing program that helps subsidize up to three months of rent payments.

The budget also calls for money to hire three full-time staffers to help Morishige run homelessness programs throughout the state.

“It’s really critical to have the capacity to travel to the neighbor islands,” Morishige said. “We know that homelessness is a statewide issue. It’s not limited to Oahu.”

Ige’s budget proposal also calls for more money to clear homeless encampments on state lands and along highways, including funding for a new program to store property collected in the sweeps.

Hawaii saw a 23 percent increase in its unsheltered homeless population between 2014 and 2015, and a 46 percent increase in the number of unsheltered families, Morishige said. There were 7,260 homeless people in Hawaii at the latest count.

The proclamation is set to expire in April.

Comments (13)

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

  • Is it just me? When I see that headline — we are not FIGHTING HOMELESSNESS we are financing it. Just like feeding birds or other wild creatures–build it and they will come.

    • Since “time immemorial” there has been “Homelessness”; this is not a new societal malady. Mistakenly, many human beings believe that they have evolved and reached a level of intelligence and spirituality to be able to help those who cannot help themselves. Sadly, as we read the comments herein and hereon–this is simply not true–and unfortunately, there are those who fuel their individual ego’s by belittling those who cannot help themselves.

  • Just sweeping the dirt under the rug. Right now there is no solution. Maybe in the distant future where eradication comes into play. More so for the chronics. Cruel? Inhumane? Watching too many science fiction movies? I don’t think so.

    • You’re right: you wouldn’t “think so.” Because an understanding of what’s cruel and inhumane requires a basic level of empathy and watching movies requires an attention span.

    • It’s not just the food stamps (SNAP), it’s the cash welfare payments that attracts many to Hawaii. Why live in a state without general assistance (cash welfare) when I can go to Hawaii and get the cash.

      Not saying we should not help the homeless but sometimes I think Hawaii makes it too attractive for the lazy.

  • The homeless in Hawaii comprise 0.005 % of the State’s total population. It’s unbelievable how much attention, time and resources are directed towards them without any effective results. Here is some advice from Ben Franklin … “I am for doing good for the poor, but …I think the best way for doing good for the poor, is not making it easy for them in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” Too bad there is nobody in our local and state government like Ben Franklin.

    • For better and perhaps worse, 20th Century America is a different place than was 18th Century America. Sure some people were free to choose whatever vocation they wished. Some were indentured. Some were slaves. Others simply died.

  • every person is worthy in the sight of God…….I will continue to light a candle at my church and pickup litter when I see it.

    I watched PBS last night and they had a program on spotlighting the drug courts in Seattle/Bremerton WA (less jail time if they go for treatment)……I trust we are doing the same?

  • Feed them they will come. Give them money they will come. Let them sleep in the parks they will.

    What did you expect ? Who is in charge ? The lazy and unwell or the working and productive people ?

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up