HUD cuts funds to programs for homeless with HIV/AIDS, mental illness | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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HUD cuts funds to programs for homeless with HIV/AIDS, mental illness

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The $1.3 million in cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable homeless people on the island.

Eight programs on Oahu that serve 282 homeless teenagers and homeless adults with HIV/AIDS and mental illness have begun losing their federal Housing and Urban Development funding as the agency changes its approach to homelessness.

The $1.3 million in cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable homeless people on the island. And the biggest chunk — $335,489 — will hit Gregory House programs the hardest.

The organization currently houses 20 formerly homeless clients with HIV/AIDS, who typically are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and often have mental health problems.

Today, Executive Director Jonathon Berliner plans to tell the patients living in lower Makiki that there is no plan for where they’ll live as of Sept. 1.

“It’s baffling that HUD would do something like this when we have the highest (per capita) rate of homelessness” in the country, Berliner said. “These are people who have nowhere else to go. We’re doing what we can to not just dump our clients out on the street.”

The cuts will affect homeless programs only on Oahu. Two neighbor island programs will receive the same amount of HUD funding they got in the last fiscal year, as will two programs on Guam, according to HUD.

The Oahu cuts are part of a nationwide sea change in which HUD is pushing the country’s 398 local community groups — known as a Continuum of Care — to emphasize so-called “permanent supportive housing” over transitional programs such as Gregory House.

“Permanent supportive housing” is often called Housing First, which maintains that it’s more effective and cost-efficient to first put homeless people into fair-market rental units, then deal with problems that can include mental illness and alcohol and drug abuse.

“We recognize that local planners are making tough decisions right now about the programs they support,” said HUD spokesman Eduardo Cabrera. “But the good thing is we know how to end homelessness: encouraging communities to make permanent housing solutions so they can serve an even greater number of people.”

Asked about the future of the eight Honolulu programs that are losing their HUD funding, Ryan Okahara, field office director for Honolulu’s HUD office said, “In many cases these programs will look for other sources of funding.”

On April 30, Hale Kipa lost its $128,101 HUD funding to serve nine homeless young males and young women in two separate homes in Ewa.

The nonprofit is now dipping into money that wasn’t budgeted for it to keep the program running, said Chief Executive Officer Punky Pletan-Cross.

“There’s a lot of people that are scrambling right now,” Pletan-Cross said. “Everyone is trying to focus on doing a good job, and it’s difficult when you’re all on the street at the same time looking for money.”

Hale Kipa also will lose a separate federal contract for $100,000 on July 1 to provide homeless street outreach.

“We’re not going to precipitously put people on the street,” Pletan-Cross said. “That’s not appropriate. But it really feels to me the message is there’s a one-size model and we’re going to prioritize that over all other considerations. That’s narrow-minded. The longer they’re on the streets, the more difficult it is to come back. And the challenges to come out of homelessness become more complicated.”

While HUD has begun cutting $1.3 million for the eight Oahu programs, it is increasing the amount of money for rental assistance because of rising rents.

So the net reduction to Honolulu’s Continuum of Care adds up to an overall hit of $525,793 out of the $9.2 million HUD will provide.

The $9.2 million also includes $296,602 for Partners in Care — which leads Oahu’s Continuum of Care — to help organizations adjust to the funding cuts, said Mark Chandler, community planning and development director for HUD’s Honolulu office.

“It gives them administrative dollars to plan for homeless services and the direction that the continuum should head,” Chandler said.

Across the country, Chandler said, “many continuums received planning dollars this year to help them deal with the transition to head more into the direction the federal government wants these continuums to have.”

Asked how the money will be spent in Honolulu, the chairman of Partners in Care, Marc Gannon, said in a statement through a Honolulu public relations company that the HUD money “will help to ensure that PIC is effective and efficient in its role as the Continuum of Care for Oahu” by working with state and city officials and helping HUD to evaluate and monitor how its money is spent, among other things.

In a separate statement, Gannon said, “Partners in Care (PIC) remains focused on addressing the urgent needs of Hawaii’s homeless population. We are working actively with the affected organizations to ensure that we are able to continue serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. PIC is collaborating with serv­ice providers and government partners to realign available resources to support programs that are most critical in our continuum.”

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, said HUD has been talking about de-emphasizing transitional programs in favor of permanent supportive housing “over the past several years.”

“No one is saying that traditional programs don’t have a role,” Morishige said.

He plans to work with his counterparts in the city to help nonprofit groups deal with the HUD cuts.

“We are one of many communities across the country where funding is being prioritized toward permanent housing programs,” Mori­shige said.

But for now Berliner, the Gregory House executive director, is still trying to figure out how to tell his 20 clients with HIV/AIDS today that they’ll have no place to live as of Sept. 1.

“These are individuals that are at the bottom of the bottom,” Berliner said. “They’ve come to us homeless, oftentimes with substance abuse issues and mental health issues. This all exacerbates that. It makes no sense.”

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  • “It’s baffling that HUD would do something like this when we have the highest (per capita) rate of homelessness”

    My guess is that:

    1) HUD doesn’t approve of the policy decisions by the City of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii that has led to such a high homeless rate, and don’t want to subsidize bad policy.

    2) They haven’t forgotten how the City of Honolulu jerked them around when they caught them misusing HUD funds.

    3) Senator Inouye is no longer in Washington arm twisting and overriding Federal programs to ensure the flow of pork spending to Hawaii and now some other state with an ancient senator is getting the money that used to flow to us.

    • No people knew this was coming. When the Continuum of Care programs were reauthorized by congress everyone knew that the new legislation mandated the shift in priority to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). Other Continuums saw this coming, ours were in a bit of denial. This has nothing to do with the conduct of the state or local governments, or past HUD program experience, or the passing of a Senator. This is just about a program changing, and locally it will have an impact. BTW, HUD is a housing agency, thus the shift in emphasis to PSH. There are other federal programs that these guys can apply for to support the services the homeless need.

  • ““It’s baffling that HUD would do something like this when we have the highest (per capita) rate of homelessness” in the country, Berliner said. “These are people who have nowhere else to go.”>>>Maybe because you’re not doing anything to actually IMPROVE those numbers?

  • YES; these will be the SOCIETAL-VICTIMS that IGE AND CALDWELL will eliminate when they retain “BROWER” and his vigilantes to herd them in to Halema`uma`u CRATER…

    • These so called “societal Victims” and those who brought mental illness upon themselves by drug use -other than the naturally insane- all condemned themselves to death already by their actions. Wasting money on them is a waste.

  • these organizations doesn’t mention success of any kind except taking government money for housing homeless etc., no one leaving, no new homeless.

    • Do you think its because no one asked them about outcomes? Just so you Know you can go down to the local HUD office and obtain copies of the the Annual Performance Reports for each of the grantees. Its free. You might want to take a look, its makes for some compelling reading and would answer most of your questions.

  • The State’s refusal to see that unlimited immigration under COFA, and Hawaii’s VOLUNTARILY providing free medical to all COFA immigrants (despite the federal court saying we don’t have to), and encouraging mainland states to send their homeless here with our “no waiting, step-off-the-plane and immediately get welfare benefits” policies, and the refusal to consider sending the homeless to a cheaper place on the mainland for drug treatment and career counseling, and Caldwell insisting that landlords will be happy to rent to homeless without asking the homeless to first give up drugs, has resulted in our homeless problem that will only get worse and worse. Hawaii will end up with really expensive beach-front neighborhoods where foreign millionaires lives, and ghetto slums like Rio’s favelas being built in Kalihi, Waianae, and other neighborhoods that will be identified as the City’s dumping grounds, to house the millions who will eventually end up here for a free ride in Hawaii. I’m just glad that I’m old, because I saw Hawaii when it was still a beautiful place for the middle class. I feel sorry for future generations.

    • And Caldwell is getting the people involved in a big fat lawsuit when a woman is raped or someone is hurt or killed because one of his flop house tenants went nuts on ice.

    • Favelas in Waianae coast Kalihi and such are the dire consequences of freedom to the unworthy, overpopulation and immigration from third world. Freedom is great , but in the end the people who are not worth it are ruining everything by abusing freedom. Therefore we must find a new way to restrict freedom to low-life people and somehow prevent their multiplying. Or else out future is doomed.

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  • ” HUD spokesman Eduardo Cabrera. “But the good thing is we know how to end homelessness: encouraging communities to make permanent housing solutions so they can serve an even greater number of people.” ”

    it would be to the state’s advantage to adopt and duplicate the successful template of the hud federal plan that ended homelessness in the mainland. clearly, that there are no homeless in the other 56 states proves that the federal government knows what it is doing.

    the first step to ending homelessness is to start calling them transient campers. the homeless population disappears overnight and their problems are solved. similarly, the repetitive chant “security inquiry” versus “criminal investigation” allows a congenital liar to continue her obsessive campaign to be the first female felon nominated for president.

    it’s all a matter of smoke, mirrors and semantics.

  • Homeless people with HIV wandering around our island. This is a huge public health concern. These people need help for everyone’s sake. If they are refusing help, they should be MH-1’d and be put into a medical facility.

  • $9.2 million minus $1.3 millions equals $7.9 millions. That’s still a lots of money. All The Gays and the Mahu’s all they want to do is to get screwed and screw your ass.

  • Not a “homeless” problem, it is a Housing problem. HUD getting back to its core mission of developing housing.
    Not developing more homeless. Lots of hardworking dads and moms out there busting butt lworking multiple jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, trying to keep a roof over their family. Help the working families, the children, not the homeless.
    More affordable housing for families.

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