Homelessness survey shows coordinated efforts paying off

Posted on May 30, 2018 in Featured

GOOD NEWS: State homelessness coordinator Scott Morishige at the Point-in-Time news conference.

The numbers are encouraging, the tents are fewer, and yes, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Those closest to the challenge know that’s the human reality of homelessness. Are we seeing progress? Governor Ige and state homelessness coordinator Scott Morishige say news from the latest Point-in-Time count shows statewide efforts launched three years ago are paying off. (For a closer look at homelessness, go to http://bit.ly/2GL6EDC)

For the second year in a row, Hawai‘i’s homeless count has decreased statewide, and homelessness on O‘ahu decreased for the first time since 2009, according to the Point-in-Time count survey conducted by Bridging the Gap and Partners in Care, a homelessness coalition. The statewide decline featured overall decreases on Kaua‘i (28.9 percent), O‘ahu (9.4 percent), Hawai‘i (8.8 percent), and Maui (2.6 percent). Among the key findings:

Surveys show homelessness has declined statewide two years in a row.

• An almost 10 percent decrease in homeless individuals statewide — from 7,220 persons in 2017 to 6,530 in 2018.
• A 10.6 percent decrease in homeless families.
• A 12.5 percent decrease in the number of homeless children in families.
• A 4.8 percent decrease in chronic homeless individuals and families.
• A 13.5 percent decrease in homeless veterans statewide.

“This validates that our Housing First approach for reducing homelessness is working,” said Governor Ige. “We prioritized fixing the system by including housing placement in service contracts and gave agencies the tools to do their jobs, like enforcement on public lands.” The governor praised the coordinated efforts of Partners in Care and Bridging the Gap coalitions and state and county agencies who provide services to those in need.

Morishige said over the past three years, Governor Ige has directed resources to “programs we know work.” The efforts started with emergency proclamations to fast-track increasing housing units across the state, accelerate partnerships like Duane Kurisu’s Kahauiki Village, establish the Family Assessment Center in Kaka‘ako and improve enforcement in public spaces while connecting homeless individuals to services. “When it comes to homelessness, funding alone is not enough,” said Morishige. You have to take a comprehensive approach and fix things in the system that aren’t working. That’s how you create long-lasting change.”

Read more in June’s Capitol Connection newsletter