Understanding Homelessness in Hawaii

Homelessness remains a pressing issue in the state of Hawaii, as thousands of people find themselves without a safe and stable place to live. While Hawaii is known for its tropical paradise, it also has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the United States. In this article, we will explore the causes of homelessness in Hawaii, what the state government is doing to combat this issue, and where those facing homelessness can find support and assistance.

Who is Facing Homelessness in Hawaii?

A range of people face homelessness in Hawaii – from native Hawaiians, veterans, families with children, and individuals struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders. The number of homeless people in Hawaii has increased over the years, largely due to the high cost of living and scarcity of affordable housing.

The Causes of Homelessness in Hawaii

Homelessness in Hawaii is a complex problem, driven by multiple factors. The soaring cost of living makes it difficult for many residents to afford housing. Additionally, the limited inventory of affordable housing is another significant contributor. The state also sees high rates of substance abuse and mental health disorders that can lead to homelessness. Unfortunately, there is also an insufficiency in the capacity of emergency shelters or transitional housing, which spurs the rise in homelessness.

Efforts by the State Government to Combat Homelessness

The state government of Hawaii has been implementing programs to address the issue of homelessness. In 2016, the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness (HICH) was established to coordinate state and county agencies' efforts. Their strategies focus on providing permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing assistance, and coordinated entry systems to streamline access to homeless services.

One such program is the Homeless Programs Office (HPO), under the supervision of the Department of Human Services, which provides funding and oversight for services assisting homeless individuals and families. These services include homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, street outreach, and transitional housing. Notably, they also offer budget assistance to non-profit shelters, directly supporting them in meeting the needs of the homeless population.

Homeless Shelters and Its Assistance

There are numerous homeless shelters across the state, providing shelter, meals, and a range of supportive services for different population segments, including single adults, families, and veterans. However, note that some shelters may have criteria for who they serve and a limit on how many people they can house.

These shelters also provide life-saving assistance like medical care, job search support and mental health therapy, including substance abuse treatment services. They also provide help to secure long-term housing.

Numbers and Eligibility

In total, there are more than 50 homeless shelters, transitional housing, residential alcohol, and drug treatment centers in Hawaii. In most cases, people experiencing homelessness are eligible for help from these shelters. Still, each program has its own specific eligibility criteria, focusing on different population groups such as those with children, single adults, or veterans.

Discoveries about Hawaii Homeless Shelters

A unique aspect of some homeless shelters in Hawaii is their focus on cultural sensitivity. Shelters like the Waianae Civic Center offer programs emphasizing native Hawaiian values and allow residents to engage in traditional farming and food production. These kinds of practices acknowledge the cultural diversity of Hawaii's homeless population and promote integrative healing and recovery.

Concluding Thoughts

While homelessness in Hawaii remains an urgent issue, various state-led efforts, combined with local services offered by homeless shelters, provide critical support to those in need. By addressing the root causes and offering comprehensive support, these programs hope to reduce homelessness and provide a stepping stone for individuals to regain their footing in society.

If you are experiencing homelessness and in need of assistance, the department of Human Services in Hawaii, particularly the Homeless Programs Office, would be a good place to start.

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