comscore Progress in ending homelessness cited as conference begins | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Progress in ending homelessness cited as conference begins

  • STAR-ADVERTISER

    Scott Morishige

A roomful of social service workers and others trying to end isle homelessness heard a pep talk Friday — a day after a federal report showed that homelessness increased in Hawaii while much of the country saw declines.

“By the numbers you have some work to do,” said Jennifer Leimaile Ho, the Washington, D.C.-based senior adviser on housing and services for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and niece of the late entertainer Don Ho.

But Ho quickly pointed out the 44 percent drop in homeless veterans on Oahu between January and August.

“It will fill you with pride and confidence that doing something so big, so patriotic and so amazing is actually possible,” Ho said at the start of Friday’s Statewide Homeless Awareness Conference at the Kroc Center in Ewa Beach.

“Don’t be afraid to think big. … When formerly homeless people have a home, it makes us all better,” she said.

Ho, who authored the first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, said everyone across the country focused on homelessness is waiting to see who President-elect Donald Trump appoints as HUD secretary.

But she expressed doubt that the Trump administration will want to roll back the Obama administration’s progress on homelessness, especially veterans’ homelessness.

“The bar has been set so high and the data is so good that any administration would be foolish not — to steal a Hawaiian metaphor — to ride the wave. Why would you want to be the administration that went backward on veterans’ homelessness?”

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, held up Friday’s front page of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and pointed out the headline that read, “Hawaii homelessness rises by 4%,” and said, “We know … we’re making progress.”

But, Morishige added, “Sometimes it doesn’t always feel that way because the work we do is very challenging and very difficult. Ending homelessness is not an easy thing, and all of you know that.”

He told the story of a boyhood friend who, like Mori-shige, had also lost his father at a young age. He saw the friend years later when he ran past Morishige downtown, and he had apparently become homeless by that time.

Then about two weeks later Morishige read in the newspaper that his friend had been found dead in Honolulu Harbor following an assault.

“I remind myself that the work we do is just not an abstract thing. … This is an issue that impacts our friends and neighbors in the community, real people that we know. … I could have found myself in that same situation,” Morishige said.

“We are making progress,” he said. “We just need to remind ourselves to continue that progress and not to falter.”

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
Comments (7)

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

  • While the national average is trending toward declines and homeless veterans declined 44% in Hawaii, something is amiss in the Nei showing a growing rise? How come, The Mayor was reelected for problem solving? Electorate got their heads in the sand or the Union have no heart as the homeless do not pay dues?

    • Yes.. we need to give credit to govt for the progress that has been made.

      Residential housing is in short supply because of the reluctance in allowing housing development in Hawaii. It has taken over 10 years for devolopments at Hoopili and Koa Ridge to get started.

      These developments will eventually house about 100,000 people in the Honolulu urban core but it is still not enough for current demand. However I’m sure that available rental housing is possible after people start moving into their new homes.

      Working homeless people now living in their cars might be able to find rentals for their needs when new housing becomes available for sale.

  • “Progress in ending homelessness cited as conference begins” That is the most ridiculous claim possible. Tent cities and semi-permanent structured are growing like a cancer all over. Of course the homeless are not truly homeless: They are allowed by derelict officials like Caldunwell and IGEnominous to illegally making their rent-free home in tents and hovels on public properties. And I do not buy the claim that homelessness is sinking nationally , they probably just fail to count all. Citizens rise up and demonstrate and impeach the enablers of lawlessness before it is too late and ten thousands riffraff invade and poop on your front lawns!

  • Logic implies that numbers will increase every year. How many more bums from the mainland came in? High school kids are licking their chops about the possible new career choice and all the freebees.

  • The numbers have increased here while dropping, nationwide? Hello…..winter approaches. Everybody starts heading here, for the more bearable weather and easier access to services. Hawaii politicians are not about ending homelessness, they enable and enhance it. How dare they close their eyes to the ever-growing tent cities, blatantly blocking our sidewalks and outlying parks and allow there continued growth, instead of nipping the problem in the bud, as soon as these law-breakers put up the first tarp. The city’s answer is to buy and renovate millions of dollars worth of properties, to house just a few. The overtaxed masses of hard-working folks who already have daily struggles trying to provide for their own will always have to bear the cost of wiping the a$$es of many shiftless, lazy newcomers who leech of of our resources because it’s cold where they come from or Uncle Sam dropped bombs on their grandpa’s island. How have they been living for the 2-3 generations since the 1950’s? ACLU and COFA can kiss my a$$.

    • Most people leave Hawaii for elsewhere if they lose their jobs here. That’s why Hawaii has a low unemployment rate. We’re not getting lazy bums from the mainland.

      • I’m talking about people who COME TO Hawaii, with no place to live and no job prospects. You can see them walking down Nimitz, dragging their carry-on luggage. Eventually you will see them congregating by the Sand Island access triangle, across from McDonalds and at Costco Iwilei, taking turns holding their “Mahalo for your help” signs. I’ve seen these same faces for many months. Apparently they aren’t moving…

Scroll Up