DAGS: Helped Hawai‘i’s Homeless Move Toward Self-Sufficiency

Birthday celebration at the Next Step Shelter in Kakaako.

• Governor Lingle first brought the issue of homelessness to the public forefront at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i in July 2004. The Governor told the nearly 1,000 business leaders that, “We’ve come dangerously close to accepting homelessness as a problem that we just can’t solve,” and cautioned that the festering housing problem will have significant impact on the state’s long-term economy, visitor industry and land values.

  • The Governor convened a task force comprised of homeless advocates, human service providers, housing developers, financial institutions, faith-based organizations, government agencies and other private, public and non-profit partners.  In January 2005, the task force submitted the 10-year Hawai‘i Plan to End Chronic Homelessness to the Governor and the Legislature.

• In April 2006, a crisis emerged when the abrupt night time closure of Ala Moana Beach Park displaced approximately 200 homeless people. Governor Lingle took decisive action to address the situation using the authority granted to her under the Hawai‘i State Constitution and State laws, when she signed an emergency declaration to provide shelter for the displaced people.

• Although not part of its core function, DAGS worked to provide homeless housing facilities since that declaration, and joined the State’s many community partners, including private and nonprofit organizations, in making significant progress toward solutions to homelessness.

• Just six days after the Governor’s declaration, DAGS Central Services Division completed an emergency shelter named “Next Step” for 200-300 people in a 31,00 square foot vacant warehouse in Kaka‘ako.

• In May 2006, Governor Lingle received the inaugural “A Home for Every American” award from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) for her efforts to end homelessness in Hawai‘i.  USICH recognized her Administration for developing the state’s 10-year homelessness plan, promoting solutions to alleviate the affordable housing shortage, and allocating more funds to repair homeless shelters and provide supportive services to the homeless.

• After the rapid opening of Next Step, the Governor issued other emergency proclamations to address health and safety issues as a result of having so many homeless living in parks and beaches along O‘ahu’s Leeward Coast.

• The Governor’s executive action allowed DAGS to develop and implement within a few months Onelau‘ena shelter for 200 people in Kalaeloa in 2006, and Pai‘olu Kai‘āulu shelter for 300 people in Wai‘anae in just 7 months in 2007 for 300 people.

• Taking over responsibility for coordinating the State’s homeless efforts in early 2008, the Comptroller oversaw the August 2008 opening of Kahikolu Ohana Hale ‘O Wai‘anae, a 72-unit transitional and affordable rental apartment project developed by the Hawai‘i Housing, Finance and Development Corporation with homeless services provided by the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority’s Homeless Solutions Program.

• On Kaua‘i, DAGS worked collaboratively with the administration of the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste and Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity to open Mana‘olana, the island’s first emergency shelter, as well as the Ka Uapo transitional housing facility at the former state courthouse building in Lihu‘e.

• The final two shelters built under the Governor’s emergency proclamations were completed in December 2008. Ulu Ke Kukui in Ma‘ili, was built by Stanford Carr Development, at no profit to the private developer. It has 80 housing units for families with children. The second facility, Kumuhonua 36 at Kalaeloa, is a former Navy enlisted men’s quarters, and underscores our partnership with the military in finding homeless solutions.

• With every unit that has been built, an individual or family has received much-needed shelter, as well as support services to help them regain their financial footing and transition into permanent housing. The shelters and services provided, combined with the outpouring of support from the community, provide hope and opportunities for a better future.

• These efforts by the Administration and its partners spurred action to increase shelter capacity throughout the State. As a result, homeless shelter capacity has doubled since 2006 from 587 to 1188 units, while dormitory beds have increased by 50 percent from 525 beds to 785 beds.

• The number of homeless people who received services from outreach provider agencies increased 18.2 percent from 9,875 in fiscal year 2006 to 11,680 in fiscal year 2009.

• The number of homeless people who received service in shelters increased 66.7 percent from 5,688 in fiscal year 2006 to 9,483 in fiscal year 2009.

• The number of people who transitioned into permanent housing increased 163.9 percent from 1,532 in fiscal year 2006 to 4043 in fiscal year 2009.

• Since taking office, the Lingle-Aiona Administration has worked with its partners to increase the supply of affordable homes and rental units as part of a long-term strategy to reduce homelessness.

  • Between 2003 and 2010, 4,544 affordable houses and rental units were built. For years 2011 to 2015, the Administration has set a production target of 5,580 homes and rental units. Of that number, 554 units are already under construction.

DOH: Aided Volunteers Who Feed the Homeless

• In 2006, faith-based groups petitioned for help in feeding the homeless.  In 2007, DOH amended its rules to exclude kitchens and serving locations that are used only to prepare and serve food to the homeless for free.  As a result, faith-based organizations and other volunteers who cook and serve meals to the homeless do not need a permit.

DHS: Helped Homeless Families

• To help homeless families living on the beach in the Wai‘anae area, DHS teamed with Kamehameha Schools in 2007 to fund the Malama Mobile. This outreach effort, operated by the Partners in Development Foundation, provides a traveling preschool, family literacy program, food and clothing. It also connects families with medical, dental and legal services.

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