LEAD help for the homeless instead of jail

Posted on Oct 29, 2018 in Featured, Main
Heather Lusk, HHHRC executive director, and HPD officers join Gov. Ige to announce the new LEAD initiative offering help rather than jail for the homeless.

Heather Lusk, HHHRC executive director, and HPD officers join Gov. Ige to announce the new LEAD initiative offering help rather than jail for the homeless.

A new pilot program emphasizing treatment and social services rather than jail for those who commit minor offenses has already helped 33 people, including one man who had been homeless for more than eight years, said Governor Ige. The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, funded by the Department of Health, involves a partnership of more than 30 community organizations.

“Government cannot resolve homelessness on its own,” the governor said. “The LEAD program is strengthening the bonds of trust and understanding between law enforcement and the most vulnerable members of our community.” The pilot is based on a similar project in Seattle that has a track record of success. In that program, 55 percent of participants received drug treatment through LEAD and 40 percent found housing.

Through the local LEAD project, the Honolulu Police Department and the Department of Public Safety refer those who commit low-level victimless crimes to the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC). The LEAD coalition will offer housing, substance abuse treatment and other services to improve public safety in downtown Honolulu. “LEAD will provide law enforcement with alternatives to arrest or citation,” said Heather Lusk, newly named HHHRC executive director.

Read more in November’s Capitol Connection newsletter

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