Building homes is not just about building houses, but also about nurturing communities. From the start of this administration, working with the legislature and the private sector, we have made reducing homelessness a priority. At the time, Hawaiʻi had the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country. Between 2016 and 2019, we increased the number of homeless moving into permanent housing by 73 percent. On average, we have moved over 600 homeless individuals into permanent housing each month.
Homelessness can happen to just about anyone. Just ask construction worker Kalani Lautele, whose rent was suddenly doubled in 2016. Lautele and his children found themselves homeless and desperate. He was referred to the state’s Family Assessment Center (FAC) in Kaka‘ako, which we developed together to help homeless families find stable housing and other support services, provided by Catholic Charities.
After a two-month stay at the Center, the Lautele family was able to move into a home in Kalihi, but that’s not the end of their story. Kalani needed a way to “pay forward” the help he was given. He continues to visit the Center, bringing his children and the entire youth football team he coaches to help with outreach events and donations for the families there. Why does he bring his team to the FAC? “For a lot of reasons — mainly so they can appreciate what they have and find ways to help other folks when they need it,” he said.
I would also like to recognize Lt. Gov. Josh Green for his work on the H4 initiative. This initiative provides medical services for homeless individuals through Joint Outreach Centers in Chinatown and Kāneʻohe. The lieutenant governor has focused on health concerns of the homeless and is also working on other projects, like the Kauhale Village concept.
Click here for the Lautele family’s story: