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Hawaii News

Shelter in Waipahu to close over state’s new homeless rules

Homeless shelter operators across the state have been complaining about upcoming rules they say will force them to eliminate hundreds of beds, and now one of them, Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center, says it will have to close next month because it can’t comply.

“We knew that complying with the specs of the contract are impossible,” said shelter director William Hummel, “and we didn’t want to enter into a contract we couldn’t fulfill.”

So Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center did not meet the state’s deadline to apply for a new contract. The current contract expires Jan. 31, and Hummel said the shelter might close a week or two before the end of January.

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, said Monday his office is working with Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center to find permanent housing or alternate shelter space for as many of the shelter’s clients as possible.

Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center is the only emergency shelter on Oahu between Kalaeloa and urban Honolulu.

It can shelter 100 people, and 73 spent the night Sunday, Hummel said. In a six-month period the shelter typically houses 400 to 500 people, he said.

Last month shelter operators representing eight of Hawaii’s homeless shelters — or fewer than half of all island shelters — told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that new state Department of Human Services contracts requiring more space for clients and better ratios of toilets and showers per client would require them to eliminate a combined total of 662 beds when the new contracts begin in February.

The estimate of lost beds “didn’t include us,” Hummel said Monday. “So you can add another 75 or so” beds to those that are expected to be lost.

In an interview with the Star-Advertiser last week, Gov. David Ige said the changes to shelter contracts are necessary because “sometimes we weren’t focused on the right outcomes. We really want … to move them (homeless clients) into a permanent situation.”

The current shelter contracts, Ige said, are silent on how clients are expected to make the transition into permanent housing.

Instead, Ige said, he wants “to ensure that the system that we have in place really moves people from being unsheltered on the street into permanent housing.”

Hummel called the new rules requiring shelters to move clients into permanent housing “ill-advised.”

“There is no permanent housing,” he said. “That’s why we have this problem.”

Waipahu Lighthouse Outreach Center’s only source of income is its state contract, so it has no money to comply with new rules that “would require massive construction,” Hummel said. “All of the requirements are devised by someone who doesn’t know anything about homelessness.

“I don’t understand what’s going on. There’s a homeless crisis, but I don’t see a crisis reaction.”

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    • Any homeless shelter finding the obtuse DHS rules to costly to support, does not allow them to fully do their mission should simply close their doors. Post a sign stating the homeless to contact DHS, Scott Morishige, Gov David Ige for homeless assistance.

      These bureaucrats have told us from day one they are visionary, have all the answers, can solve any problem. Let them prove it now.

      DHS = 10th world at best.

      • dragon, the referenced article you provided will disprove your claim. That’s hilarious! If you’ve read it, your comprehensive skills are nonexistent. Notwithstanding a free airline ticket, seed money and $1-$800 to purchase an unlivable home, there might be $2,000-$3,000 annual property tax for the homeless to pay. Repairs needed to make it livable cost tens of thousands of dollars that the homeless don’t have. LOL, you really proved yourself now. Why don’t you blame Hillary and the Hawaii Dems for your brilliant idea?

  • If I am homeless I can sleep under a bridge and poop in the open or I could go to a designated shelter where facilities are available to have a more secure sleep experience with maybe a meal. Oh wait, the bureaucracy has stepped in to define a shelter with a list of absolutes. I apparently need more space, for my junk, and my available toilets have to be in proportion to my fellow homeless persons residing with me. I recall growing up in a family of five with one bathroom. Maybe under the bridge is easier living than society, as defined by the bureaucracy.

  • If I remember correctly, those new rules are ridiculous. The State people who dreamed them up are totally clueless. They should stay with the old rules and keep housing as many people in the shelters as possible.

  • Another of thousands of daily examples of the incompetency of state Department of Human Services. Bureaucrats like to make up rules just to say they did something. No clue as to the problems they cause, cost to comply, people who may be hurt.

    Would have been good if half the homeless shelters said the cost of compliance is too high, close their doors. Post signage advising all the homeless people to move to their new shelter at DHS, 3380 Mamane St #45, Honokaa, HI 96727.

    Let DHS figure out how to fix “their problem.”

    • In Honololulu go to 677 Queen St #400A, Honolulu, HI 96813

      In Kailua Kona go to 75-5722 Hanama Pl #1105, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

      In Hilo go to Hilo Lagoon Center Association, 75 Aupuni St # 205, Hilo, HI 96720

      On Maui go to 35 Lunalilo St # 300, Wailuku, HI 96793

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