Hawaii saw its homeless population grow another 4 percent from 2015, federal officials announced today, making the islands only one of 14 states and territories — and Washington, D.C. — that saw their homeless numbers grow.
Collectively, homelessness across the country fell for the seventh consecutive year, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Matthew Doherty told reporters on a conference call today.
But while Guam saw a staggering 15.2 percent decrease and states such as North Dakota fell 29.3 percent, the 7,921 homeless people counted in January across the islands represented another year when the number of people living without a permanent home has increased.
Since 2010, when President Barack Obama launched the first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, Hawaii’s homeless population has jumped 35.8 percent, according to data released today.
Hawaii ranked worst in per capita homelessness in 2015, but federal officials today did not immediately have data comparing states, territories and the District of Columbia per capita and discouraged such comparisons, especially for a small island state such as Hawaii.
While Hawaii’s homeless population jumped 4 percent between January 2015 and January 2016, Washington, D.C. led the nation with a 14.4 percent increase in its homeless population, followed by Indiana (14.3 percent); Oklahoma (8.7 percent); Wyoming (7.4 percent); and Washington (7.4 percent).
Castro and Doherty told reporters today that they hoped President-elect Donald Trump’s administration builds on the efforts of the Obama administration to address homelessness across the country and U.S. territories.
“This new administration ought to understand it’s responsibility in continuing to lead” on the issue of homelessness, Castro said.