While homelessness overall was down on the neighbor islands, a snapshot from January shows a wide range for each county compared with the data collected in 2018 — from a wild 51% increase on Kauai to a 21% drop on Hawaii island to a 1% decrease on Maui.
Combined, the neighbor islands saw an overall 2% decrease between January 2018 and last January, according to Point in Time Count data released Tuesday in Pahoa.
Volunteers counted 1,995 homeless people across the neighbor islands in January compared with 2,035 in January 2018, according to Bridging the Gap, which organized the annual neighbor island census of homeless people.
The neighbor islands combined saw large decreases in several homeless categories:
>> Family homelessness fell 18% — from 216 families in 2018 to 177 in January.
>> Homelessness among veterans decreased by 3%, and youth homelessness dropped by 11%.
Officials with Bridging the Gap said the Garden Isle increase was due to “more oversight and planning, an increase in the number of volunteers, and improved execution of Kauai County’s Point in Time Count.”
On Hawaii island, “the substantial decrease was a surprise since last year’s natural disasters displaced more people than usual,” said Brandee Menino, chairwoman of Bridging the Gap.
On Kauai, 14 of the island’s 348 unsheltered homeless (or 4%) reported that they were homeless because of the April 2018 flooding that devastated parts of the north shore.
On Hawaii island, 11 of the 447 unsheltered homeless (2%) indicated they were homeless because of Hurricane Lane in August. Another 26 people (6%) said they were homeless because of the Kilauea Volcano eruptions.
Hawaii island saw an 8% increase in homeless people who were sheltered, “due in large part to the inclusion of the disaster-related shelters” that accounted for 30 total people, according to Bridging the Gap.
The neighbor islands combined reported an overall 7% decrease in unsheltered homeless, which dropped from 1,330 in 2018 to 1,237 in January.
Tuesday’s neighbor island numbers followed February’s release of preliminary numbers for Oahu’s Point in Time Count.
The Oahu data showed a 12% increase in unsheltered homeless people, while the overall numbers were down 4%.
The number of “unsheltered homeless” on Oahu increased to 2,401 in January from 2,145 a year earlier. At the same time, Oahu’s “sheltered homeless population” dropped to 1,910 this year from 2,350 in 2018.
Added together, there were 4,311 people living on the street or in shelters on Oahu — or 184 fewer than last year’s count.
The final data for Oahu’s Point in Time Count is expected to be released next month.
Despite two consecutive statewide declines of more than 9 percent starting in 2017, Hawaii has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country.
Federal officials are expected to make state-by-state comparisons later this year.
BY THE NUMBERS
Homeless in South Hilo
Homeless in North Kona
Homeless in Central Maui
Homeless in Kihei
Homeless in Lahaina
Homeless in South-Central Kauai
Homeless in West Kauai
Source: Bridging the Gap