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State gives $13M in contracts, vows boost in homeless shelters

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    Gov. David Ige spoke during a news conference Thursday outside the Family Assessment Center in Kakaako.

Thirty-three homeless shelters across the islands are pledging to collectively add nearly 200 beds and to more than double the number of clients they place into permanent housing, Gov. David Ige announced Thursday.

Ige’s announcement outside Kakaako’s Family Assessment Center, the state’s newest shelter for homeless families with children, came in the wake of shelter providers’ concerns that new standards for sleeping space and toilets going into effect July 1 would force them to remove hundreds of beds.

One of those providers, Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu, with capacity for 100 people, cannot comply. It did not apply to renew its state contract and is expected to close.

But Ige said $13 million worth of new contracts awarded Thursday will actually increase the number of beds across the islands to 3,761 — up from 3,577 last year.

More important, Ige said, the shelters have proposed more than doubling the number of people they place into permanent housing — to 6,200 from about 3,000.

“This really emphasizes our focus on collaborating with our partners, ensuring that we are more efficient and effective in the way we structure contracts,” Ige said outside the Family Assessment Center, which opened in the aftermath of the 2015 Kakaako homeless crisis, which peaked with more than 300 people living in encampments there.

“It’s appropriate that we’re here in Kakaako to make this announcement,” Ige said.

Ige said 290 people from the original encampment have been placed into permanent housing. The Family Assessment Center this week alone found permanent homes for 10 people among three families.

“As you know,” Ige said, “in the last 12 months we’ve touched the lives of more than 5,000 members of our community and … placed more than 3,000 into permanent housing.”

The new shelter rules require more sleeping space and additional toilets to improve living conditions for homeless clients, but there could still be changes made to the new standards, said Scott Morishige, the state’s homelessness coordinator.

In the meantime, Morishige said Department of Human Services officials will work with shelters to come up with common-sense ways of complying over the next several months.

“It really is about flexibility,” Morishige said.

“We were listening,” Ige said. “It really is that give-and-take. We know that we cannot defeat homelessness by ourselves. When we work together we can do great things. This contract will really help us move forward.”

The changes mean that the state’s largest homeless shelter, the Institute for Human Services, will lose beds for 64 people.

But IHS was allowed to continue using floor mats at its men’s shelter housing severely mentally ill clients, who sleep each night on the dining room floor.

“We still have beds, that’s the good news,” IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho said. “Basically, we can still accommodate 326 people across both those (men’s and women’s) shelters.”

At the same time, IHS has added another 136 beds since 2014 at small, specialty shelters on Oahu aimed at medically fragile patients, veterans and people with psychiatric and substance problems.

“There’s impact,” Carvalho said. “If beds are lost elsewhere, there’s more demand on our end that we have to meet.”

Late last year, as the new rules began to take shape, IHS was among the shelters that complained “we were being given a forced, unfunded mandate. No one came here and toured our shelter. No one came here and talked to us,” Carvalho said. “We definitely wanted to voice our concerns that there’s unintended consequences across the system. They did listen to us.”

“At the same time,” Carvalho said, “we completely support the state in their goals, which is to move more people into permanent housing. Stop looking at beds and ask providers, ‘How many people are you housing?’”

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  • You might find it better to trade services for work. You always see those signs will work for food. How bout trading food and shelter for four hours of cleaning the highways of rubbish. Statistics show the more free services a city provides for the homeless the greater the homeless population grows in said city.

    • i like this idea. How about the new, out-of-state beggars who are young and able-bodied and go out pan handling at stop lights and stores? People need to STOP giving them money.

      • I would like to see a state vetting process for all the homeless. Those who can prove Hawaii ties, did not recently arrive here to leech off of taxpayers go to the front of the assistance line.

        All those who just arrived from the mainland, no Hawaii ties, given two choices.

        1. Ticket back home.

        2. Non locals are end of the line for homeless services. Meaning you will not get any assistance until all the locals are out of the line.

        Non locals don’t like it? Go home. Our money, our state. You are part of the problem.

  • I wonder how many of the so called 3,000 in permanent housing are still there. We all know a percentage of them can’t follow the rules. So quit spending taxpayers monies on the homeless who don’t want help.

  • And yet the number of homeless keeps increasing. Has the State calculated the maximum number of people it can afford to give free housing, medical, food, etc., to? If yes, what is that number; if not, why not? Has the State calculated the cost of global warming’s effect on the low-laying islands and atolls in Micronesia, when those populations move to Hawaii to freeload? If yes, what is that cost; if not, why not? Has the State designated targeted neighborhoods to shuffle the homeless to, away from the rich people and tourists? Where is the list of those neighborhoods, and if not, why not? Until the State can answer real questions, every public official should be removed from office and replaced. The “leaders” of this State are utterly useless. A part of me weeps for Hawaii’s future, while the other part thinks Hawaii will gt what it deserves.

    • Gutless leadership. Got to have a program to end homelessness, not keep on feeding it. I remember Jamaica gas a shantytown community, Bermuda does not. Bermuda (British) will not allow you to stay if no means of support.

  • What exactly is the point of sheltering individuals who have little to no chance of self-sufficiency (i.e., meth addicts)? Remove the homeless from Housing First rental units and relocate them to these converted warehouses and storage containers. Create a homeless rehabilitation procedure. A possible one could be as follows:

    Eliminate funding and grants for homeless enabling services (i.e., free food locations) to force homeless into shelters. State could create temporary work for homeless (i.e., park cleanup, highway cleanup, landscaping, etc.). Build a homeless mental health and rehab facility. Build a homeless penal facility. Keep all shelter rules as is, do not dumb-down. Then the following procedure could be implemented:

    1) Homeless will be required to go to shelters or the mental health/rehab facility. If not, they will be sent to the homeless penal facility.

    2) Homeless that fail the rehab program will be transferred to the penal facility. Homeless that complete the rehab program will transfer to a shelter.

    3) Homeless in shelters will be required to work the foregoing temporary jobs until they find a permanent one. This work could count toward their experience.

    4) Once homeless maintain the temporary or permanent job for 6 months, they will be eligible for transfer to single-unit facility (i.e., converted storage containers). They will receive financial management training and start to pay a subsidized rent and utilities. In the process, they will be required to save 20% of their paycheck. State will contribute 25% of the saved amount semi-annually. If they violate the terms of the single-unit facility, they will be moved back to the shelter to start the process again. If they fail, they will be sent to the penal facility for one year.

    5) Homeless that are able to maintain residence in the single-unit facility for 18 months will be eligible for living in state subsidized housing. Kick out the high wage earners and doctors in these facilities. Yes there are medical doctors living in Kukui Towers. We have family living in there that make over $100k and pay $400 a month for a one-bedroom. Kick them out.

    The penal aspect will deter those making lifestyle choices and mainland homeless migrants. Contrary to what bleeding hearts say, tough love is required once all other options are exhausted. Every parent knows this. The government is the homeless’ parents. Stop enabling, start rehabilitating.

  • Have to make a new law to STOP people from giving to panhandlers. Make it illegal for the giver to give to a person holding a sign or asking for $$$$. IF you give them $$$ this enables them to remain on the streets.

    • I went to help a friend renovate yard. She had this young guy weedwacking. I asked her where she got him. She said he was holding up a sign at Walmart and turned out he was a great worker. You never know

  • MORAL HAZARD: ” the idea that a party that is protected in some way from risk will act differently than if they didn’t have that protection” (Investopedia).
    There need to be BOTH positive and negative consequences to public behavior. If our homeless programs don’t involve both the carrot and the stick they will not have the needed impact on socially disruptive behaviors that we all wish to see. As it is, too many in our community are willing to risk community health, aesthetics, and civil order because they see no real harm to themselves from their behaviors and are willing to shift many of the negative consequences to the broader community.
    Our community is being asked to KAMAU (persevere)–so too should those who can’t or won’t make the effort to help themselves ( even if only be letting others try to help them).

  • Gov Ige mentioned “give and Take”. I live here, work hard and pay taxes to give. The homeless takes. I pay taxes and give. At what point do we demand the homeless give back to society? Many work hard but just can’t afford it here. I get that…it’s hard for me, too. But those who choose to not contribute to society and just live off our contributions should understand “negative response to negative actions”… When/How do we fix this problem? I want to help those in need, but am tired of helping the lazy!!!

  • I did make my input, but wonder if the Hawaii leadership even read it? The polls show that Hawaii votes for the person who’s Democrat…no matter what they say or do. When does this state stop voting “party” and start voting for what is best for the people of Hawaii…you know, the ones who actually live here?

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