Expert on fixing homelessness ‘gets it’
Hawaii News

Expert on fixing homelessness ‘gets it’

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lloyd Pendleton took a picture of a bed at the Next Step homeless shelter in Kakaako last week. With him were Lambert Lum, center, the director of shelter services at Next Step; Richard Long, left, area welfare manager for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City; and Richard Kaai, shelter services supervisor at Next Step.

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lloyd Pendleton, left, toured the homeless encampment in Kakaako Makai Gateway Park last week along with Tamah-lani Noh, an aide to state coordinator on homelessness Scott Morishige, and Lindsey Doi of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Lloyd Pendleton, known for his no-nonsense efficiency in addressing homelessness in Utah, is in talks with Mayor Kirk Caldwell about a move to Oahu to help reduce the highest per capita homeless rate in the country.

Pendleton and Caldwell met for the first time Friday when Pendleton outlined his ideas to get more people off the streets of Honolulu. Caldwell then told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “I love the guy. I wanted to keep him here with us or clone him. He lived up to all of the expectations I had. He gets it.”

Pendleton — who describes his age as “75 and a half” — has officially retired as Utah’s homeless coordinator. But he constantly welcomes visitors to Salt Lake City — when he’s not touring the country speaking about how it became the second city in America, behind Phoenix, to eliminate “chronic homeless veterans” and reduced overall chronic homelessness by 72 percent in 10 years.

Pendleton’s work as a homeless coordinator followed careers with Ford Motor Co. and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, where Pendleton was in charge of humanitarian relief for Europe and Africa.

He talks about how social service agencies and Republican officials in Utah — “the reddest of red states,” as he calls it — were able to persuade conservative, business-oriented landlords to rent their units to homeless people who may have mental health issues or be addicted to alcohol or drugs through a program known as Housing First.

And he’s proud of how leaders from a wide-range of faith-based groups, not just the LDS, came together in Utah to help.

Pendleton told the Star-Advertiser that Caldwell “made that offer, so I’m gathering information. I’m interested. I’m talking to the big guy in the sky to see if he wants me to go to Hawaii to help out on homeless-ness. I’m not interested in going there to do a bunch of politics. I’m interested in making things happen and making the tough decisions.”

If it works out, Pendleton would arrive with his wife, Mary Beth, who “loves Hawaii,” he said.

Pendleton had nothing but praise for everyone he met on Oahu, from social service outreach workers to Caldwell, Gov. David Ige and Scott Morishige, state homeless coordinator.

Every community working to reduce homelessness needs what Pendleton calls a “champion” who can rally everyone else around a focused plan.

Without criticizing anyone else, Pendleton said he believes Caldwell’s energy and ideas make him the natural “champion” on Oahu.

“He’s a very action-oriented mayor,” Pendleton said. “I was impressed.”

The fledgling bro-mance seemed to be reciprocated.

“He’s the kind of guy we need here in Honolulu,” Caldwell said. “He’s lived it for over a decade and he can quickly analyze the problem in our state and in our county.”

Pendleton was in town at the invitation of LDS officials in Laie who want to be more involved in helping reduce homelessness in the islands, said Richard Long, the church’s area welfare manager out of Salt Lake City.

LDS officials in Hawaii, Long said, “see the problem. They see the issues. They feel compassion.”

Pendleton and Long wore dark business suits and ties for their separate meetings last week with Ige, Caldwell and state legislators. Pendleton, who was raised with conservative values on a Utah cattle ranch and dairy farm, also added his trademark lizard-skin cowboy boots.

For Hawaii, Pendleton said, “I see opportunities for the LDS to get more involved.”

But no one church, agency or person can end homelessness, he said.

During a tour of Kakaako’s Next Step shelter, Pendleton winced when he saw that only thin blankets separate homeless families from the concrete floors they sleep on.

Pendleton then kicked into high gear, pumping out ideas for the Next Step staff to consider to make the shelter’s operations more efficient and help the lives of the 280 people who can fit inside the refurbished warehouse.

Pendleton said the LDS has experience donating sealed mattresses that would keep out bedbugs, make them easier to clean and would make it more appealing to stay in a shelter.

When he was told that Next Step never turns away donations — no matter how bulky or impractical they are — Pendleton suggested that Next Step partner with Goodwill Industries of Hawaii and donate anything the shelter does not need. In turn, Pendleton said, Goodwill could issue vouchers that Next Step clients would redeem for more appropriate items, such as job-hunting clothes.

He then toured the shelter’s nearly empty food pantry and said there’s “high interest” from the LDS’ “Bishop’s Storehouse” to provide food to the needy.

“You get what you need, when you need it, instead of having to warehouse everything,” Pendleton told the Next Step staff.

He suggested that Boy Scouts looking for Eagle Scout projects would be a perfect match to collect much-needed toiletries, towels and sheets and turn them into kits that are given to newly arrived homeless clients.

“A fresh set of ideas is good,” said Lambert Lum, Next Step’s director of shelter services. “He’s given us lots of new ideas that expand on our existing practices. It’s awesome.”

Pendleton understands many of the barriers in the islands: “Land use, environmental issues, NIMBY-ism,” he said. “They’re very tough challenges. Everybody wants to help with the homeless, but they want it done somewhere else. If you get caught up with the barriers, it’s not going to get done.”

Caldwell plans to find money in his administration’s budget to hire Pendleton in some sort of capacity “to help coordinate with the state, with the private sector and with faith-based organizations. I told him we have a lot we can do with him working with us. We remain hopeful.”

Across Punchbowl Street at the state Capitol, Morishige said Pendleton’s meeting with Ige and Rachael Wong, director of the state Department of Human Services, involved a discussion of efforts underway.

“A lot of the practices they implemented in Utah are some of the things we’re implementing here,” Morishige said. “As we design Housing First we’ve built in damage guarantees and other incentives for landlords. It was good to hear that many of the elements we’ve built into Housing First are similar to what Lloyd built into Utah’s program. He also spoke about really engaging the community, the faith-based community, in particular. How do we really get the community more involved in this issue? It’s a significant accomplishment that Lloyd’s done in Utah. State government can’t do it alone. We do need to form partnerships.”

Morishige said he plans to “keep an open conversation with Lloyd and share with him our continuing progress.”

Jun Yang, executive director for the city Office of Housing, also plans to stay in touch with Pendleton.

Yang sat in on the nearly 90-minute meeting between Caldwell and Pendleton and said, “the mayor’s been hearing his name for the past number of years and he’s been wanting to have a chance to meet with him. We really do hope we have more opportunities to work together and learn from his experiences in Utah and nationally.”

Yang then added, “As an aside, he’s just a really cool guy.”

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    • Hawaii is not Utah. Utah has cheap land and low cost of living. People do not plan to move to Utah with the specific intent of freeloading. Utah does not get the majority of COFA immigrants trying to get free housing and health care. Utah does not have attractive year-round warm weather. Simply providing free housing for the existing homeless might work in Utah, but Hawaii faces very different problems because our homeless population continues to grow through immigrants moving here with the intent to freeload, drawn by our no-waiting-list free health care and welfare, and year-round beautiful weather. I think Cadlwell has his head up his okole, and he definitely does not “get it.”

      • Ryan, I will agree that the warm weather, beautiful parks, and beaches that we have make camping out as a freeloader more attractive than checking in to a program. Nomad life with freebies is a no brainer. Hawaii’s problems are way more complex than Utah. New laws are needed and some need to be amended and done away with. Nice story but they don’t “get it.”

    • Let the private sector pay his salary for a year and let him try. LDS is rich and could easily pay for their own man. But I agree that Utah is nothing like Hawaii and it is not assured he could repeat here what he did there.

      I am no fan of Trump but I do agree with him that Reagan made a bad deal in COFA. Inouye was apparently asleep at the time. Unlimited immigration to Hawaii by Micronesians should never have been allowed or agreed to. Trump says he will undo that silly treaty. I hope so. Hawaii needs a time out from COFA. Let us absorb the enormous numbers we have now. On top of that Hawaiians and Micronesians dislike each other for many reasons and violence has broken out in some cases as reported in the SA.

    • agree..and the “whiz kid” type from the mainland is a common mythic figure out here. It has recurred many, many times in the past. Some dude claims a big-time reputation on the mainland and comes out to teach the natives how to tie their shoes. He typically fails and mysteriously disappears after garnering much hot air and salary.

      • The problem here is less about the “whiz kid” than it is about out local bureaucracy. Have you ever truly tried to look into our local government operations? Our local government workers, supported by our politicians, have had decades to perfect their control over keeping everything as is. There’s been no meaningful change to virtually anything. Governors and mayors have been no match to the unions and their workers. Yes, this guy will likely fail as well.

    • Wait a minute. That lying cheating sneaky eyes forked tongue Cadwell already declared victory over homelessness. So what is this about? Victory? Drive down Ala Moana Blvd. and look at the park that fronts the UH Medical School. The homeless dudes is all back with a growing tent city once again. They like cockroaches they scatter and they come back. But according to Sneaky Lying Eyes Mayor Patoot, we already defeated homelessness. Welcome home another Bagdad Bob ergo Jerk Cadwell.

  • Wow did we you find God? Pendleton did not suggest anything more than what we already are doing. Only he suggested where more emphasis should be done. Hiring him? As this article tries to hint that he is a miracle worker-he is not. If he is then why wasn’t approached two years ago. And paying him, ABSOLUTELY not. Is that why he praise Caldwell to get put on a salary?? Caldwell you are one of the biggest PHONEY in our government today. As I have stated before Caldwell should just put on a hard hat and a raid worker n fill our pot holes. Excuse me paving workers I am not criticizing you people but Caldwell is the mayor and comes out on TV with a hard hat vest shovel behind an asphalt truck- I know he couldn’t do your job either

  • If he were truly an “Expert” he wouldn’t need to be taking a picture of the cardboard shelter–he’d have seen this already, a thousand times for the last 20 years. Hawaii Government needs to spend time in L.A. and learn all the alternatives to helping these persons–Constructively. Hawaii Government is CLUELESS.

  • Given how bad the housing crisis is on Oahu, we should try this and any other ideas that have worked elsewhere. This is not the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario – the situation here was beyond broken a decade ago!

  • these two guys are slapping each other on the back with praises and they hardly know each other. Pendleton stated: ” I’m talking to the big guy in the sky to see if he wants me to go to Hawaii to help out on the homeless-ness”! what a bunch of crock! anybody eating this up? so if he decides not to assist it will mean God told him no! another sorry statement comes from Jun Yang: “As an aside, he’s just a really cool guy”! Bernie Madoff was a cool guy! with such accolades, the State won’t need Mr. Morishige.

  • I found Pendleton inspiring. It is a shame that most of the comments are so negative. How about giving him a chance. DO any of you have better ideas? Maybe you should share them.

    • “Caldwell plans to find money in his administration’s budget to hire Pendleton in some sort of capacity…”
      Why? There is NOTHING Pendleton did that can’t be done by anyone here in Hawai’i. And though Pendleton did a great job as the director of the Utah Homeless Task Force, he didn’t do it alone and it did not happen overnight. The LDS were not the only people involved. Many faith based organizations, food pantries, volunteers and the tax payers of Utah came together to tackle this problem. And yes, there were many people that did not want to be moved into shelters or regular housing and preferred to live on the streets. But, the numbers of the chronic homeless did go down. These are the people targeted for housing as well as services such as medical assistance, shopping, job applications, job referrals etc.
      The government defines the chronic homeless as people who have been on the streets for more than a year at a time, or homeless four times in the past three years. They also must have been reliably diagnosed with a major debilitating condition such mental or physical illness, alcoholism or drug dependency. There is no quick fix and there’s no easy fix. And, unfortunately there are still a lot of homeless people in Utah as well as every other state.

      • Well said and of course, the answer is not east and requires a collaborative effort.The thing is we could all see that spending a fortune to sweep Kakaako was not going to work. Why didn’t the experts know?

        • aomohoa, it can work, but there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Also, we need infrastructure in place that doesn’t take months and months and ridiculous amounts of money to get ready. Someone mentioned tiny homes, other people mentioned temporary FEMA trailers, cargo containers…all good ideas…but the process here is so slow.
          Even a Home Depot shed can be”home.”

        • You still need a leader of people to bring the others together. If ‘someone in Hawaii can do it’ – where the heck are they? Who is that person – you? Step up then if it is.

    • I have repeatedly pointed out that the state’s failure to enforce the laws requiring health plans to maintain adequate dr. Networks has contributed to homelessness and the strain on numerous state and local agencies.

      This also presents an opportunity, if only our elected officials would do their job to provide proper oversight. This won’t solve homelessness, but can reduce the number of those who fall into it because of inability to get treatment for physical or mental illness. This is a slam dunk, and does not require any appropriations, and will reduce costs for other state programs and reduce strain on the state budget. It is humane, just, practical and cost effective. Sadly, Roz Baker and others who are responsible for this refuse to act.

      • Each year the state pace Medicaid managed-care plans over a billion dollars a year based on the promise that they have and will maintain adequate provider Networks. State and federal laws matmandate this. Unfortunately they are in violation. Their provider networks are inadequate. Responsible officials know this, but turn a blind eye.

        Roz Baker, chair of the Senate health and consumer protection committee that is in charge of these matters, along with our insurance commissioner and director of the MedQuest program, share responsibility for allowing this to go on year after year.

        This has even been brought to the attention of the Star-Advertuzer, and even they have looked the other way. What other business, if it promised to deliver a product or service, was licensed on the basis of attesting it had the capability to do so, collects over 6 $billion each year from customers, but fails to provide it, then gets to keep the payments and nothing is done? This is the case for our regulated health plans, particularly the plans paid to care for those at risk for homelessness.

        These facts are indisputable. Studies, available data and public statements by state officials, health plan executives and patient advocates make this abundantly clear. Why, then is no one willing to act?

      • This would be one positive piece of the puzzle Danno. Unfortunately politicians dedicate most of their time and efforts allocating finances to the train and land development for their special interest investors.

    • I have a better idea. You offer the homeless a shot at going into a shelter. If they refuse you drop them off in Kalaupapa and let them live off the land and sea. If they don’t want to go to Kalaupapa you terminate them with extreme prejudice. If you don’t want to terminate with extreme prejudice, then you pay for them to be housed somewhere. Whatever route you choose, you do not let them determine where they are going to live on the street. We do not allow people to live on the street. How compassionate we are about that, is up to this society. There’s a better idea babe.

  • Across major cities, there are many people who are one paycheck away from being homeless. And many of these people hold responsible jobs and have never had any prior homeless issues.

    There are trends common to all of these cities, such as high real estate and rentals, average wage to mortgage imbalances, growing wage disparities, etc.

    It is summed up in one word – sustainability or lack thereof – which ultimately results in people driven to being homeless. While all of us would like to see our homeless problem in Hawaii solved, these numbers will keep increasing unless affordable housing becomes a priority.

    In some cities, they are banking on TOD which relies on high density of people living in affordable housing, etc., very close to rail stations. This helps to alleviate the issue of those persons who are willing to work, have skills, have families, probably live paycheck to paycheck.

    • Often that paycheck is lost because someone becomes sick or depressed, cannot access proper care in a timely manner, their condition worsens to the point they cannot work (or can’t work effectively), they lose the job and are out on the street, sick and homeless. This ends up as a lose-lose situation. The state or employer already paid for health benefits that were not received. The individual and their family suffer, and have to get help from unemployment, general assistance, shelters, vocational rehabilitation. If the illness is bad enough CPS and/or HPD are contacted, and the ill person is shuttled between the jails and courts, and family placed in foster care. These programs are already overburdened and understaffed. The person may or may not receive treatment, but with all of the stress, chaos and conflicting bureaucratic demands this is hard to do. Many with untreated mental illness are arrested, incarcerated and wrapped in red tape by the costly criminal justice system.

      The win-win approach is for state officials the ensure that health plans are forced to comply with the law, to maintain adequate provider networks. Workers who are poor and who get sick would be more likely to get help, to continue functioning, to take care of themselves, and to help their families. They pay taxes rather than relying on costly and inefficient state and local services and supports.

      There is an old saying called “For Want of a Nail” about how not fixing small problems often leads to bigger, more costly ones:

      For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
      For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
      For want of a horse the rider was lost.
      For want of a rider the message was lost.
      For want of a message the battle was lost.
      For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
      And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

  • Just make real sure this fellow’s mission here does not include lobbying for that Mormon Church housing development across Malaekahana Beach at the old Gunstock Ranch. No deal to help the City in exchange for the City administration giving support to that very bad development proposal.

  • Read this article carefully. This guy wants ENCOURAGE homelessness by humanitarian practices. The Mayor is trying to fool us by showing us a recognized figure whose philosophy matches his. We DON’T need this foolishness. We want to get rid of these unsightly unhealthy bums. The suggestions that the rich Mormon Church step in and help is a good idea. They need to wash away their sins of sex slavery, pedophilia, and polygamy so go for it. Good PR opportunity. Try this. Ship them all to Utah and do your Godly goodness.

  • Mayor Caldwell may be attempting to get points in order to become Governor Caldwell. The State is vigorously working on the homeless issue, so why does the city need to duplicate the effort? All of this just shows that the disconnect between The State and The City continues, ever since Governor Ariyoshi and Mayor Fasi clashed. Not once in its 56 year history as a State, has the Governor and the Mayor ever worked together collaboratively. When Mayor Hannemann stole all the state’s resources to build himself a Roman Coliseum like Rail system, all construction in this state has been thrown awry. Are we sure we are going to benefit from Rail?

  • In spite of all the fist-bumping and camaraderie genuinely displayed,

    “I love the guy. I wanted to keep him here with us or clone him. He lived up to all of the expectations I had. He gets it.” “He’s the kind of guy we need here in Honolulu,” Caldwell said.

    After the mayor finds ‘budget’ to accommodate Lloyd Pendleton will there be a need for Morishige ? Perhaps they could effectively replace him with Lloyd and problem would be resolved.

      • No free-bees here in paradise.

        Lloyd eliminated “chronic homeless veterans” and reduced overall chronic homelessness by 72 percent in 10 years.

        He’s already proven himself by his legacy.

        Tax payers pay the POTUS and he still gave us a failed healthcare system, failed foreign policy, failed immigration policy and allowed ISIS to regroup.

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