Hawaii Police Department Backpack Drive For Children Who Can’t Afford Them

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between now and (August 30).

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the ninth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry), and Camp Agape Big Island.

Backpack Drive for Children Who Cannot Afford Them

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between now and August 30.

Backpack1

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the eighth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry).

Hope Services Hawaiʻi provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements.

Mentoring Program Assists in Community Reintegration

HOPE Services Hawaii Inc. has launched “Mentoring,” a program designed to help recently released Hawaii Island prisoners transition back into the community.

Hope Services Hawaii

In partnership with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), HOPE will provide support, mentorship and skills training to help participants successfully reintegrate.

The program offers support by teaching positive values, providing training opportunities that develop job skills, and assists with securing stable work and living arrangements.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 95 percent of all individuals incarcerated will eventually be released and return to the community; of that, 77 percent will be arrested again within five years. In 2013, 1,615 inmates were released in Hawaii, many in need of housing and jobs.

HOPE Services, a non-profit specializing in homeless services and transitioning people off the streets, has committed to addressing the cycle of recidivism in 2015 through Mentoring. The two-year pilot program will provide support and mentorship for 50 adult male and female inmates island wide. The program already has secured 10 qualified volunteer mentors in East Hawaii, but more are needed to make Mentoring successful.

“Often, individuals released from incarceration feel helpless in their transition,” said Brandee Menino, Chief Executive Officer for HOPE Services. “The Mentoring program works with inmates before they are released, which allows them the opportunity to build on the skills and values needed to make reentry successful. It makes all the difference to have someone in your corner that believes in you and gives you hope.”

Through Mentoring, each participant is matched with a volunteer mentor who offers advice, provides positive support, helps hone skills development and assists with securing housing and employment. Mentors are trained to build and foster the relationship, providing non-judgmental support and guidance.

By the end of the Mentoring program, the goal is that participants have increased self-confidence and achieve a level of self-sufficiency through employment and housing and are contributing, productive members of society.

Community members interested in volunteering as a mentor must be 21 years or older and participate in a mentor training workshop. A Mentor Support Group meets monthly and is open to all volunteer mentors.

For more information, or if you would like to become a Mentor, contact Steven “Happy” Stachurski, HOPE Services Hawaii’s Mentoring Coordinator, at (808) 935-3050 or send an inquiry to volunteer@hopeserviceshawaii.org.

Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

More than 45 of Hawaii Island’s top officials in government, business, construction, academia and the non-profit sector gathered last week in Hilo to discuss the Puna lava situation and its effects on the island’s housing market.
Lava Housing

The emergency housing forum, hosted by HOPE Services Hawaii, Hawaii Island Realtors, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Day Lum Rentals & Management, included roundtable discussions that focused on short- and long-term housing planning, legislative policy and expanding community resources.

The November 24 forum was intended as the beginning of a larger conversation focused on building more affordable housing on Hawaii Island. An action plan that outlines next steps and leverages private and public partnerships is being created by the forum’s hosts and expected to be complete by first quarter 2015. The plan will identify short and long-term solutions, which will help inform possible legislative policies and provide the basis for maximizing community resources.

During the forum, agency heads discussed what organizations are experiencing as a result of the lava breakout, which started in late June and has travelled 13.5 miles since. Some presented ideas to alleviate the demand for housing outside of Puna, noting, however, that today’s quick fixes should complement the island’s long-term housing and development plans.

“No one is pretending to have all the answers,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “There’s no lava flow manual, so many policy decisions are being made with the best information available. What we’re facing as a community is significant, but the challenges are not insurmountable. The County has been and will continue to be all hands on deck, ready to collaborate, and to share information as it becomes available to lessen anxiety and uncertainty.”

Brandee Menino, chief executive officer for HOPE Services Hawaii, said that while HOPE primarily helps homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition off the streets and obtain stable housing, her office has been getting calls from families displaced by Tropical Storm Iselle and potentially isolated by the lava. She noted that even before this year’s natural disasters, the need for rental units had been identified.

“A 2011 Housing Planning Study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation revealed that Hawaii County would need 1,753 rental units by 2016 in order to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Menino. “This report was done in 2011, when lava was not a concern, so we must make a concerted effort to prioritize creating more affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s families.”

Paul Normann, executive director of the Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP), a resource for distressed families, said Puna has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the State. “Because of the disruption caused by Iselle and the active lava flow, NPP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, July through October, NPP has already served 106 families. To put that in context, over the course of the entire 12 months of the previous fiscal year, NPP served a total of 130 families.

Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum said that some families wanted to get ahead of the lava and moved from the area. But Cabral is concerned with who haven’t. “There are a lot of residents who have not been preparing for what’s coming. It seems they are waiting for government to step in and rescue them, so we really need to take steps to ready the housing market.”

Cabral offered solutions to stave off a potential housing crisis including working with hotels to temporarily rent out rooms, helping families uproot and move homes to vacant lots and lobbying the State to relinquish control to the County of affordable units such as Lanakila Housing, which can move faster to make the units available to those looking to relocate from Puna.

Mark Kimura, an economic geography researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who conducted an informal survey of Puna residents, said almost half reported they had no one to rely on or place to go if they needed to move. 14 percent said they have already left the area or are preparing to leave and 25 percent said they could move-in with family or friends on-island. He said many don’t want to give up their homes because they are still paying a mortgage, have farms, can’t afford to move and have difficulty finding places that are pet-friendly or retrofitted for people with disabilities.

Amanda Donaldson, President of NARPM’s East Hawaii chapter, which is made up of about 20 local residential property managers, said members get nearly a dozen additional calls a day from families looking for housing outside the lava zone. She said NARPM agents are willing to add addendums that allow individuals in the lava impact zone to break their lease once lava hits.

Kehau Costa of Hawaii Island Realtors championed a “one-stop-shop” rentals website where interested renters can view available units on the island, which would speed up house hunting. Costa also suggested a “new landlord resource fair” because of the increasing number of individuals asking how they can convert part of or their entire home into a rental.

Additional ideas that came out of the forum include exploring commuter housing, house sharing, prepping lands for modular housing, fast tracking County building permit processes as well as County take over, repair and rental of foreclosure homes.

Any individuals or organizations interested in taking part in future discussions may contact Brandee Menino at bmenino@hopeserviceshawaii.org or (808) 933-6013.

Backpack Drive for Kids Who Can’t Afford to Buy Them

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between June 23 and August 30.

Hope Services Hawaii workers pick up backpacks from Officer Jason Grouns, Chief Harry Kubojiri and Officer Patrick Menino at the Hilo police station, one of eight collection sites around the island.

Hope Services Hawaii workers pick up backpacks from Officer Jason Grouns, Chief Harry Kubojiri and Officer Patrick Menino at the Hilo police station, one of eight collection sites around the island.

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the sixth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry).

Hope Services Hawaiʻi provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements.