New Homeless Shelter at County’s NAS Pool Parking Lot

A new emergency shelter program kicked off with construction of 32 shelters on Saturday at the County’s NAS Pool parking lot. More than 50 volunteers, including members of the County Fire Department Recruit Class, pitched in to build the shelters, with guidance from HPM Building Supply.

The temporary shelters, measuring 10 x 8 feet each, will be ready for occupancy early next week and will accommodate the most vulnerable homeless individuals that are frail, elderly or have pre-existing conditions. Each unit can house up to two people. About 40 eligible individuals have been identified to stay in the units.

“It’s great to have the Fire Department, Public Works and HPM come together for this community project,” said Mayor Harry Kim. “They’re doing this in a wonderful spirit of community, and it’s really special.”

The Hale Hanakahi Emergency Shelter facility is being built with unencumbered ‘Ohana Zone funding approved by the State of Hawai‘i, and will pay for the shelters and operation costs of an estimated $200,000.  HOPE Services Hawai‘i and the Neighborhood Place of Puna are working in partnership to deliver 24/7 shelter monitoring services, delivery of “grab & go” meals, laundry services, and the coordination with on-site mental and behavioral health services.  They will also provide case management to connect program participants to appropriate permanent housing.  Other non-profits working coming together to get vulnerable homeless people off the streets include Bay Clinic and the Boys & Girls Club.

“We are grateful for the County’s leadership in making this happen,” said Hope Services Hawai‘i Chief Executive Officer Brandee Menino. 

Sharon Hirota, the Mayor’s Executive Assistant in charge of homelessness issues, thanked the County Department of Parks and Recreation for making the site available for this project.  Project participants will have access to the restrooms and showers at the NAS Pool, which is currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kona Holiday Inn to Provide Isolation Units for High-Risk Homeless Seniors

To protect the most vulnerable among the houseless population from increased risk of living unsheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic, HOPE Services began moving kupuna into the Holiday Inn Express in Kailua-Kona on Thursday, April 9, 2020, to give dozens of houseless Hawaiʻi Island residents private rooms to shelter in place during the pandemic.

Holiday Inn Express in Kailua-Kona

The hotel guests were referred by Hope Services, with priority given to those who are at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19, including kupuna and immunocompromised individuals. 

So far 10 program participants have moved into seven rooms. Those sharing rooms are couples from the same household. Some of the participants were already staying at a HOPE shelter, while others moved directly from the street.

PC: Hope Services Hawaii

The partnership comes amid the state’s stay-at-home order, which requires residents not to leave their homes, unless they are performing certain essential activities. Unfortunately, not everyone has a place to call home.

According to Bridging the Gap, a network of homeless service providers across the neighbor islands, 1,324 people on Hawaiʻi Island received homeless services last year. At least 7% of those were kupuna.

While becoming houseless puts all people at an elevated risk for a host of health problems, for some it can be deadly.

L to R: Brandee Menino, Cristina Pineda, Christine Tabac, Carrie Hoʻopiʻi, Alyssa Souza, Derrick Kai, and Ipo Morgan PC: Hope Services Hawaii

“CDC guidelines recommend that we all shelter in place, but not everyone has that luxury,” says HOPE Services CEO Brandee Menino. “We all have a role to play–from nonprofits, to businesses, to the county. It’s our responsibility as citizens to follow guidance from the infectious disease experts to make sure we protect the most vulnerable members of our ʻohana.”

The partnership comes on the tail of the county’s decision to defy CDC guidance by sweeping a homeless encampment in Hilo on Tuesday. “My team is working around the clock to keep everyone safe, Menino continued. “Not just people experiencing homelessness, but our entire community. When they stay healthy, we all stay healthy.”

Christine Tabac, Alyssa Souza, Derick Kai and Carrie Hoʻopiʻi PC: Hope Services Hawaii

HOPE Services Hawaii staff is partnering alongside Holiday Inn Express staff 24/7.  Hotel personnel are providing in-room housekeeping services every 3 days, as well as disinfecting common areas, and preparing daily to-go breakfasts.  HOPE Services team members are in essence, an extension of the hotel staff on site, to provide guests the support they need throughout their stay.

Rotary Club of Kona, Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise, and Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii Island will also provide daily lunch supplies and hot dinner meals. West Hawaii Community Health Center will offer COVID-19 testing, primary care and behavioral health services on site, at their clinic across the street, and/or via telehealth as needed.

L to R: Derrick Kai, Alyssa Souza, Carrie Hoʻopiʻi, Christine Tabac PC: Hope Services Hawaii

In order to qualify for this program, people experiencing homelessness must first register with HOPE Services. To register, call 935-3050 or email You may also make a referral if you know someone who is currently homeless. HOPE asks that interested parties do not visit the hotel, as no visitors will be allowed in the building.

This project was made possible by a $25,000 operating grant to support access to health and comprehensive services for residents on Hawaiʻi Island from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

We are gratefully accepting hand sanitizers, face masks and gloves for our houseless community and staff.  Please call Joycelyn Cabal at (808) 217-2830 or by email at to make a donation, or visit to make a financial contribution.

Hilo Residents Displaced by County Homeless Sweep Removed Despite CDC, Nonprofit Warnings

Hope Services Hawaii released the following statement regarding the homeless sweep that was done in Hilo on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

At 6:00 on the morning of April 7th, residents of the camp behind Agasa Furniture were awakened by the blast of a loudspeaker announcing that their home would be demolished in 30 minutes. Occupants were instructed by Hawaiʻi County workers to remove their belongings and vacate the premises, and were not offered alternate shelter arrangements.

PC: Hope Services

The day before, in a series of meetings between Community Alliance Partners (or CAP, a network of organizations providing services to people experiencing homelessness), and members of Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim’s cabinet, the county was repeatedly advised to follow CDC guidelines highlighting the public health risks of conducting a sweep.

The guidance, taken from a CDC webpage entitled “Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness,” states:

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

Brandee Menino, the CEO of HOPE Services Hawaii, the island’s largest homeless services provider, was present at the meetings. She says that CAP representatives advised the mayor’s cabinet that, if the county chose to ignore the CDC and move forward with plans to clear the site, it must provide a relocation plan for residents. 

Menino went on to say, “Together, we developed a plan where the county would demarcate 12-foot squares under the Bayfront Soccer Fields, open up the bathrooms, and provide HOPE Services with advance notice of a sweep.” She says the cabinet members agreed to advise the mayor to accept the plan. “While we’d hoped the mayor would protect the community by canceling the sweep, we were at least assured that we’d have enough notice to help people move to a temporary location, so that we could help them make long-term arrangements.”

Early the next morning, however, Menino was shocked to hear that the sweep was in progress, without the relocation plan.

HOPE Outreach Team Lead, Carrie Hoʻopiʻi, was on her way to Kona to help secure housing for kūpuna during the pandemic, when members of her team alerted her to the sweep. Upon returning to Hilo, she found approximately twelve HPD officers, fifteen county workers, and a bulldozer at the site of the camp. Twelve of the approximately fifteen camp residents were present.

Hoʻopiʻi says that when she arrived, a loudspeaker was announcing to shocked residents that they’d have thirty minutes to gather their possessions and leave. She and her staff worked furiously to help residents pack and remove their belongings, but it wasn’t enough time. “I asked for an extension, and they gave me fifteen minutes,” she says. “It wasn’t enough, but we worked together to remove as many belongings as possible, including items belonging to the three residents who weren’t home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get everything out.”

PC: Hope Services

Immediately following the sweep, two members of the camp were picked up by family members and taken to a home they had secured on their own. Two people were taken to HOPE’s emergency assessment center, and one was admitted to the men’s shelter. Later that evening a second man from the camp entered the men’s shelter.

“Our shelters are already operating at or near capacity, and squeezing more people in is not an option at a time when we are following CDC social distancing guidelines,” says Menino.  While Carrie [Hoʻopiʻi] met individually with each camp resident, exchanging contact information, and encouraging them to stay in touch with us, we don’t know where the remaining residents will go, or if we’ll be able to find them.”

Hoʻopiʻi says that in the preceding weeks, her team visited the camp about 3 times a week–providing them with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and educating them about preventing the spread of COVID-19. She says residents were complying and were willing to follow safety guidelines. She also says that her team had planned to enter the camp and physically help the residents to rearrange their tents in order to maximize social distancing. Unfortunately, these plans were cut short by the county’s demolition of their camp.

PC: Hope Services

“The decision to demolish the camp has traumatized a community, and has created yet another public health risk” says Dr. Kāʻohimanu Dang Akiona, a physician with Premier Medical Group, who had regularly visited the encampment to provide medical care with HOPE’s Street Medicine Team. “We went from having an established location where we monitored people’s health and provided necessities like food and PPE, to a situation where they have no choice but to go out into the community to get these items.”

Rising housing costs and stagnant wages have made the homelessness crisis even more urgent in recent years, with over half of Hawaiʻi Island residents struggling to pay rent, even before the pandemic hit. When asked why the residents of the camp became homeless, Hoʻopiʻi replied without hesitation, “For the majority, they became homeless because they can’t afford housing. They all want housing, but just can’t afford it.”

The Hawaii Police Department released the following statement:

Hawaii Police and other county and state agencies addressed the replenishment of illegal structures behind Agasa Furniture today (04-07-2020).


At 6:30 AM police along with other agencies that included Hope Services removed about 12 people and various structures located on a lot behind Agasa Furniture. Court proceedings held on Monday (April 6) resulted in the granting of a motion in favor of the County of Hawaii. Part of the courts granting of the motion included the appointment of a commissioner who will oversee the legal proceedings moving forward.


The operation was aimed at permanently removing all illegal structures from the lot and included help from Hope Services who offered alternative housing and assistance for the people on the property. There were about 4 people that took advantage of the services, the remaining people elected to seek assistance on their own.
The operation was completed at about 12:00 PM and now includes fencing and “No Trespassing” signage to prevent any further activity on the property.
Police reported that the people that were on the property were cooperative, and there was no enforcement action needed. There was an abandoned vehicle left on the property that was removed.
Lieutenant Robert Almeida of the South Hilo Community Policing Section, who supervised the police part of the operation said, “It was a joint effort, and it was a long process that involved patience, perseverance and everyone working together. We appreciated the cooperation of the all people involved. In all this was a successful operation here.”


The operation was a County response to complaints about the property that resulted in a similar operation about a year ago to illegal structures and development on the lot without permits.

Hawaii County Displays Portable Shelter to Raise Awareness of Need to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is displaying a portable shelter on its lawn this week as a way of raising awareness of the need to join hands to help the homeless of our community.

The 20-foot diameter fiberglass dome was loaned to the County by the First Assembly of God in Moanalua on O‘ahu following a faith-based summit to address family homelessness in Hawai‘i on Wednesday.  The congregation led by Pastor Daniel Kaneshiro shipped the dome at its own expense to Hilo for the summit, and is lending it to the County to display for a week.

Photo via

The dome is one of 10 that the O‘ahu congregation uses to house homeless families on its church property.  County Public Works crews on Thursday assembled the dome, which is a series of interlocking panels complete with windows, on a platform within an hour and a half.

“This is a great concept,” said Mayor Harry Kim as he inspected the dome. “The County is developing a master plan to address our homeless crisis, and this concept is one of the options that we are looking at to provide temporary shelters.”

The County is working on a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan that addresses not only houselessness, but also mental health issues, workforce development, health and hygiene, financial literacy and education in an effort to tackle the many causes of homelessness.  A broad coalition of the County, State, churches, non-profits, businesses, and other concerned citizens is rallying to help.  The ultimate goal is to graduate the people who are helped into affordable housing, jobs and a better future.

Dome developer Captain Don Kubley of Juneau, Alaska, was on hand to explain that the dome can sleep a family of four, with 12-foot ceiling capable of accommodating a loft for sleeping or storage space.  Kubley said that he is negotiating an order for 40,000 domes from FEMA, to house hurricane victims in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.  The price per 20-foot diameter standard white unit for humanitarian purposes, with two windows and a door, is $9,500.

Kubley said that when Hawai’i needs his InterShelter domes: “You will be put at the front of the production queue.”

County, State, Faith-Based Groups and Community Join Hands to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is joining hands with the State of Hawai’i, the faith-based community, non-profits, businesses and other concerned citizens to address the island’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Harry Kim said.  The County is working collaboratively on a comprehensive program with the ultimate goal of transitioning homeless people of our island from temporary shelters to affordable housing and jobs.

“These are our people,” Mayor Kim said in a statement. “We cannot in good conscience let homelessness for families and individuals spiral upward; we must do something definitive to address it. I truly feel a growing support from the community.”

His remarks followed the 2nd Annual West Hawai’i Faith-Based Summit to End Family Homelessness in Kona on September 27.  The event was a day-long gathering involving more than 20 West Hawai’i church congregations, numerous social service agencies, healthcare professionals, businesses, as well as State and County officials.

“The faith-based community is really pitching in, offering to adopt homeless families and providing all kinds of material and spiritual support; we cannot thank these good people enough,” he said. “Their spirit is spreading far and wide in the community.”

Mayor Kim expressed deep gratitude for the commitment of assistance from the State of Hawai’i’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, who attended the summit and stressed the need to maximize space and accelerate placement into shelters or transitional housing.

Governor David Ige conveyed a special message of support for the event, stressing the need for collaboration to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness.

“We appreciate so much the support that the State is giving us; they know this is crucial and that we need everybody’s help,” Mayor Kim said.

According to Lance Niimi, the County’s Homeless Coordinator there are approximately 913 homeless people islandwide, with about 379 individuals in families living without a home.  Niimi helped spearhead Camp Kikaha, a temporary Safe Zone encampment in Kona which houses about 30 people since its opening in May.

Hawaii Mayor Signs Emergency Proclamation for Homeless Folks – Suspends Some County Laws

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Him signed an emergency proclamation today due to the increasing homeless population in the Kona area of the Big Island of Hawaii:

Mayor Harry Kim

WHEREAS, Chapter 127A Hawaii Revised Statutes, provides for the establishment of County organizations for emergency management and disaster relief with the Mayor having direct responsibility and authority over emergency management within the County.

WHEREAS, Chapter 127A Hawaii Revised Statutes and Chapter 7, Articles 1
and 2 of the Hawaii County Code, establishes a Civil Defense Agency within the
County of Hawaii and prescribes its powers, duties, and responsibilities, and
Section 13- 23 of the Hawaii County Charter empowers the Mayor of the County to declare emergencies; and

WHEREAS, homeless individuals have established an encampment at the
County of Hawaii’s Old Kona Airport Park, District of South Kona, County and State of Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, the homeless individuals at the Old Kona Airport Park were removed from the park grounds; and

WHEREAS, these homeless individuals could be temporarily sheltered at the
grounds of the Hale Kikaha Project located in the District of North Kona County and State of Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, these unsheltered homeless individuals are without access to
adequate bathroom, shower and living facilities; and

WHEREAS, these unsheltered homeless individuals require health and social
services in order to maintain themselves safely and in reasonable health; and

WHEREAS, the lack of secure, safe and sanitary shelter, and adequate health
and social services for these homeless people is endangering the health, safety and welfare of these people and pose a threat to the environment and public health, and demands emergency action to prevent or mitigate suffering, injury, loss, or damage to persons and property; and County of Hawaii is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer

WHEREAS, pursuant to section 127A- 13( b)( 1) Hawaii Revised Statutes the
Mayor has the authority to relieve hardships and inequities, or obstructions to public health, safety or welfare found by the Mayor to exist in the laws of the County and to result from the operation of federal programs or measures taken under Chapter 127A Hawai’ i Revised Statutes, by suspending the county laws, in whole or in part, or by alleviating the provisions of county laws on such terms and conditions the Mayor may impose; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to section 127A- 13( b)( 2) Hawai’ i Revised Statutes the
Mayor has the authority to suspend any county law that impedes or tends to impede or to be detrimental to the expeditious and efficient execution of, or to conflict with emergency functions, including the laws by which Chapter 127A Hawai’ i Revised Statutes, specifically are made applicable to emergency personnel; and

WHEREAS, due to the possibility of threat to the environment and public health to residents of the District of South and North Kona, Hawaii Island, and the need for government agencies and representatives from the private sector to mobilize and provide immediate services to our island residents, a state of emergency is authorized pursuant to Chapter 127A Hawai’ i Revised Statutes, and Chapter 7, Hawaii County Code.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY KIM, Mayor of the County of Hawai’ i, do hereby proclaim and declare that an emergency contemplated by section 127A- 14, Hawaii Revised Statutes has occurred in the County of Hawai’ i and hereby proclaim an emergency for the purposes of implementing the emergency management functions as allowed by law, effective August 1, 2017, and continuing thereon for 60 days or until further act by this office.

I FURTHER DECLARE, that pursuant to sections 127A- 13( b)( 1) and ( 2) the following County laws are suspended during the emergency period as they relate to the grounds of Hale Kikaha Project located in the District of North Kona, County and State of Hawaii:

  1. Chapter 5 Building Code.
  2. Chapter 25 Zoning Code.
  3. Chapter 26 Fire Code.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawaii to be affixed. Done this 1st day of August, 2017 in Hilo, Hawai’ i.

County of Hawai’ i

Inadequate Housing in Hawaii Plays a Large Role in Unnecessary Hospitalizations

Homelessness and inadequate housing are major causes of unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a study by University of Hawai‘i researchers.

The finding is from an ongoing project to understand and reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes and heart disease in Hawaiʻi under Principal Investigator Tetine Sentell, an associate professor in the UH Office of Public Health Studies. Said Sentell, “We were interested in patient perspectives on the role of housing as contributing to their potentially preventable hospitalization.”

Tetine Sentell and Michelle Quensell

Reported lead author of the study, Michelle Quensell, a UH public health graduate, “We talked to 90 patients, and almost 25% reported a housing-related issue as a major factor in hospitalization. About half of these patients were homeless, noting the high cost of housing in Hawai‘i.”

Added Sentell, “Patients said it was hard to care for their diabetes or heart disease when they were living without amenities such as refrigeration, running water, a stove or a safe place to store medications. Patients also mentioned the challenges of following diet plans when canned goods were the only available foods at the shelters and food banks.”

Several major health providers in Hawaiʻi have recently created innovative new programs to address social determinants, including housing, within the health-care setting to improve health-care quality and reduce health-care costs. This research strongly supports these efforts.

Quensell is a 2015 graduate of the Health Policy and Management programs within Public Health. Other investigators included Kathryn Braun from Public Health; Deborah Taira at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawai’i at Hilo; and Todd Seto at the Queen’s Medical Center.

For more information, visit:

Governor Ige Announces 32 Percent Decrease in Hawai‘i County’s Homeless Count

Gov. David Ige announced today that the homeless population across the state decreased for the first time in eight years. The annual Point in Time count—a census of people experiencing homelessness—showed a nine percent overall decrease in the number of homeless individuals across the state.

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This year’s count found 7,220 homeless individuals across Hawai‘i compared to 7,921 in 2016.

Hawai‘i County saw the largest decline in homeless individuals – a 32 percent decrease.

“We have partnered with every mayor in every county, along with the private sector and service providers. We’ve had housing summits to identify the benefits of renting to the homeless. We have service providers to provide supportive care so that we can place families in permanent housing. It’s terrific news that homelessness is down 32 percent on Hawai‘i Island,” Gov. Ige said.

Maui County saw a 22 percent decline in homeless individuals and Kaua‘i County experienced a seven percent drop compared to 2016. O‘ahu saw a half percent increase in homeless individuals.

“I commend the many partners who have gotten out of their silos, come to the table and rolled up their sleeves. Together, we are finding more efficient ways to move people off the streets and into homes. This report is proof that our collective efforts are working,” said Gov. Ige. “While today’s news indicates that the tide has turned, there is more to do. My administration remains focused on increasing affordable housing and reducing homelessness in the State of Hawai‘i.”

A link to the overview of Point in Time’s full report, compiled by Hawai‘i’s two Continuums of Care—Bridging the Gap and Partners in Care—can be found on the governor’s website at

Illegal Camps Moved Out of Diamond Head State Monument – Six People Cited So Far During Cleanup & Enforcement Operation

Following six months of outreach to homeless individuals living on the slopes of Hawai’i’s iconic Diamond Head, crews from the DLNR Divisions of State Parks and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), along with a private rubbish contractor removed tons of debris from illegal camps within Diamond Head State Monument. They were joined by state outreach representatives.

“We empathize with anyone in Hawaii who does not have a home, and thank Governor Ige’s homelessness team for the work they are doing to find shelter for people who do not have it. State lands, though, are owned by all of Hawai‘i’s residents and cannot be used as a place for long-term camps,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. Spread across the southeast flanks of Diamond Head, parks and outreach workers have found abandoned clothing, food containers, camping equipment, cans and bottles.

Last week, during the sixth outreach activity, social workers and DLNR staff again hiked to each camp. During previous outreach trips since last October, workers have informed people at camps, in person or in writing that they would need to vacate their camps sometime in mid-March. Cottrell continued, “We are encouraged that several of the 36 camps we originally posted are no longer occupied, and we have been told that some people have been placed into transitional housing.”

As with all the previous visits to Diamond Head, a team of DOCARE officers participated today. As of 9 a.m. they’d issued six (6) citations for the violation of being in a closed area. DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell commented, “Citing these people is the last step in this concerted effort to enforce park rules.” This is the third clean-up of illegal camps at Diamond Head State Monument.

Scott Morishige, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness said, “This operation is not only about maintaining DLNR lands; it’s about connecting people to housing. We’ve been conducting ongoing outreach and notification to the estimated 30-35 people living in the area since October. These efforts have resulted in housing two veterans who had been homeless for a decade.  We will continue to work closely with the state service providers: Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Institute for Human Services, and the CHOW Project, to build relationships with people experiencing homelessness and connect them to housing.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Diamond Head is Hawai’i’s best known natural landmark. Our State Parks are for the enjoyment of all kama‘aina and visitors. Other than the established, paved walking path in Diamond Head crater, the area is off-limits because it’s not managed for public access and therefore not safe.”

The State has identified at least 40 camps or rubbish locations on Diamond Head. So far today workers have filled two large roll-off bins with materials that had previously been tagged as trash or identified by campers as such.

Hawaii Homeless Initiative Would Serve 2200 Households

With a proven track record the coordinated statewide homeless initiative has already provided over an eight-month period, financial assistance to 1,279 households, thereby assisting 3,992 adults and children who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Senator Josh Green provides “Homelessness is Hawaii’s most pressing crisis today and requires a comprehensive, all hands on deck solution, so that we can help our most vulnerable citizens. We need new ideas and the right amount of resources to improve matters immediately.”

“Through the Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative, we have helped over 4,300 individuals – 2,306 adults and 2,012 children – all of whom were homeless or at-risk for becoming homeless” said Norm Baker, COO of Aloha United Way. “For every homeless individual we rapidly rehoused, we helped three others who were on the verge of becoming homeless. Homeless prevention assistance is a critically important strategy to finding sustainable solutions while simultaneously assisting those who are currently homeless.”

Vice Speaker Mizuno adds “There is a myriad of reasons why an individual or family enter into homelessness so there needs to be a myriad of approaches to address homelessness. The coordinated statewide homeless initiative has a proven record of cost-effective prevention and rapid rehousing services that need to continue so that more families do not fall into homelessness.”

Governor Ige Announces Increases in Shelter Beds Through New State Contracts

Gov. David Ige announced the state Department of Human Services will award contracts to 33 homeless shelters. Funding will total $13,000,000 for 12 months. The new contracts require shelters to focus on outcome measures such as the number of people they will permanently house over the coming year.

Photo by Sean King

The results of the competitive bids show a net increase in state-funded homeless shelter beds, with 3,761 for the next year vs. 3,577 for last year. Additionally, the shelters are proposing to double the number of people they place in permanent housing from approximately 3,000 to 6,200.

“This is about more than increasing shelter beds,” said Gov. Ige. “It’s about increasing results. For the same taxpayer investment as last year, we’re doubling the number of people getting housed. We are finding better solutions, getting better efficiency, and creating better cooperation.”

The Request for Bids (RFP) process was open to all shelters statewide and follows state law which requires shelters to increase accountability, privacy, and safety for residents while moving people more quickly into permanent housing. In accordance with the state procurement process, shelters were encouraged to ask questions about the RFPs and received written answers. Revisions were made to the RFP based on their feedback. A written record can be found on the state’s procurement office website at:

Contracts will be effective as of Feb. 1, 2017. All state-funded shelters will receive training by the Department of Human Service’s Homeless Programs Office.

Shelter RFP Award Listing

Bed Count Projections

Hawaii County Celebrates New Micro Units to Address Chronically Homeless

Representatives from social service agencies joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Council Chair Dru Mamo Kanuha today for a ceremony to dedicate Hale Kīkaha, the County of Hawaiʻi’s newest housing project with 23 micro units to address a critical need in Kailua-Kona, particularly amongst the chronically homeless.

micro-unitsNumbers of homeless are increasing statewide. The January 2016 point-in-time count showed nearly 1,400 homeless people on Hawaiʻi Island, an increase of 10% from 2015. Of those people, about 500 were unsheltered in West Hawaiʻi.

“Our families who are homeless need a sense that they have a chance. They can believe that because they can sleep in a clean, safe place,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We’re creating a puʻuhonua, a safe haven, a place of refuge where people can walk around with dignity and respect.”

The $2.5 million Hale Kīkaha is on Pāwai Place in Kailua-Kona’s industrial area, adjacent to the area’s emergency homeless shelter. Hale Kīkaha will provide on-site wraparound social services to residents to increase their chances of success.

Kīkaha means to soar, and the name Hale Kīkaha represents the County’s hope for and commitment to the residents that will call the project home. Design and engineering work was done in-house. General contractor Kona-Kaʻū Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the project in nine months.

The County recognizes that housing is a primary need, especially in West Hawaiʻi. The County has worked to address homelessness through the nationally recognized best practice Housing First model with a number of projects during Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

Recognizing the most immediate need, the County constructed the $1.8 million, 31-bed West Hawaiʻi Emergency Shelter and opened it in November 2010.

The Homes of Ulu Wini provides 96 units for families, a mix of transitional housing and affordable rentals for families with low-moderate income, or no higher than 80% of the area median income. Construction of the $23.7 million project’s phases were completed throughout Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

Kamakoa Nui offers affordable home ownership to working families along the Kohala Coast. The Kenoi administration restarted a previous attempt to build workforce housing in Waikoloa Village, and the first families were welcomed into their homes in 2013. To date, all 91 lots at Kamakoa Nui have been sold and 69 homes have been built. Construction continues on the remaining homes, which include six participants in a self-help housing program by Habitat for Humanity. Kamakoa Nui offers fee-simple home ownership to families between 100-140% of the area median income.

A home at Kamakoa Nui.

A home at Kamakoa Nui

In addition to County-built housing, the Office of Housing & Community Development administers programs to assist tenants renting existing housing. Over 2,000 people and families receive over $14 million in assistance every year through Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and the Housing Choice Voucher programs.

“We are measured not by what we do for those who have the most, we are measured by what we do for those who have the least,” Mayor Kenoi said.

Hawaii Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a sixth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until Oct. 19. The supplemental proclamation provides 60 additional days in which to further expand the state’s collaborative efforts to house the most visible and chronic homeless individuals.  In the past year, the proclamations have helped more than 4,800 people — representing 1,353 families — move out of homelessness or prevent it altogether.

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“The tide is turning,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige.  “Collectively, our state is moving forward with a unified strategy that addresses three levers of change: affordable housing, health & human services and public safety. All stakeholders are working together in unison across multiple sectors. This coordinated and persistent approach is moving people off the streets,” he said.

Lever One: Affordable Housing

A major priority for the Ige Administration is to increase affordable housing. The proclamations allowed for emergency housing of approximately 300 homeless individuals who were in jeopardy of being displaced after federal budget cuts to seven local organizations.

impact1Additionally, the proclamations reduced the development time of nine different joint projects with the counties by up to a year per project. These housing projects are specifically designed for homeless individuals and families, including the Family Assessment Center in Kaka`ako Makai, which will open in September and house 240 people per year.  Today’s supplemental proclamation adds two additional City & County of Honolulu long-term housing projects, bringing the total to 11.

Lever Two: Health & Human Services

The proclamations allowed faster distribution of financial resources for permanent housing and to prevent homelessness.  Between August 2015 and July 2016, there was a 51 percent increase in the number of individuals and families moving into housing or preserving housing, as compared to the prior 12-month period.   This includes a 55 percent increase on O‘ahu and a 47 percent increase on the neighbor islands.  The following programs received increased funding:

  • The State Homeless Emergency Grant (SHEG) provides one-time assistance for housing, food, medical and other types of expenses arising from emergency needs.
  • Housing Placement Program (HPP) provides first month’s rent or security deposit, as well as temporary case management, for homeless families with minor children.
  • Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative (CSHI) provides homelessness prevention and Rapid Re-Housing statewide, and increases coordination for the statewide telephone navigation service (2-1-1) for homeless individuals.


Lever Three: Public Safety

By enabling the quick execution of contracts and allocation of dedicated resources, the emergency proclamations supported the reduction in the number of unsheltered persons in the Kaka`ako Makai area.  The population decreased from a high of approximately 300 unsheltered persons in August 2015 to approximately 50 unsheltered persons in August 2016.

Hawaii Governor Announces Allocation of $12M for Homelessness Effort

Gov. David Ige has announced that $12M in funding will be focused on the most visible and chronically homeless people in Hawai‘i.  The appropriation, provided by the Hawai‘i State Legislature during the regular session, was appropriated to the Department of Human Services (DHS) with the flexibility for DHS to allocate. “We know that addressing homelessness is a priority for Hawai‘i,” said Gov. Ige. “We wanted people to understand the framework that guides both DHS and our homelessness efforts.”

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

DHS Director Rachael Wong outlined the DHS multi-generation philosophy, entitled ‘Ohana Nui, which focuses on families and children. The Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness, Scott Morishige, unveiled the state’s framework to address homelessness which is based on three levers of change: affordable housing, health and human services and public safety. “The $12M allocation is a natural extension of this framework,” he said.


The first lever in the state’s framework is a high priority for legislators and the administration. Funding for this focus area is coming from separate budgets, but the $12M is helping to complement those efforts.


There will be $6M in new funding for Rapid Re-Housing (or rental subsidies) and Housing First (an evidence-based program that houses and supports chronically homeless individuals suffering from severe mental health conditions, substance abuse or other issues). Half of the Housing First resources will go to neighbor islands.

An additional $1.4M in funding will support the state’s Family Assessment Center being constructed in Kaka‘ako. This includes $500k for renovations and $900k for operating costs for two years.


Public safety refers to keeping public places safe and open for everyone. Morishige emphasized that government has an obligation to respond to encampments on public land. Also, the state’s public safety protocol allows the state to properly address areas where it is unsafe for people to live. “This is not to criminalize homelessness,” Morishige said. “We want to connect people with shelter or housing, not just move them from place to place.” The budget sets aside $1.9M in new funding for state departments such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Public Safety Division and the Hawaii Community Development Authority for enforcement-related activities.


In addition, $325,000 in new funding will be used for data collection and analysis. “We have to be able to measure progress,” Morishige said. There is also $350,000 in new funding for state-owned homeless shelter renovations and upgrades.

The additional funding in service dollars reflects a nearly 60 percent increase. “This will address Hawaii’s most visible and chronic homeless population that we see on the streets and sidewalks,” Morishige said.


Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation in Hawaii

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a fifth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until August of this year. The supplemental proclamation provides an additional 60 days in which to continue the state’s cross-sector collaboration and coordinated efforts with the counties.

Click to read proclamation

Click to read proclamation

“The state has taken strides forward in creating a truly client-centered system among federal, state, county and community organizations,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige. “We are seeing unprecedented alignment of services and a commitment to the common goal of connecting people to permanent, stable housing as quickly as possible.” Morishige made the statement from the Maui Landlord Summit, where he outlined progress in the state’s unified response to homelessness:

Section 8 Landlords Recruited

The Maui Landlord Summit is the fourth in a series of state-supported events aimed at increasing government-assisted housing inventory. It serves to introduce potential landlords to homeless service providers and government agencies providing landlord support. The summit dispels misperceptions about Section 8 and the Housing First program, and is a collaborative effort between the State of Hawai‘i, County of Maui and Maui’s nonprofit service providers.

100 Homeless Families to be Housed

The Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) board has approved emergency rules to establish a special rental subsidy program, which will make available approximately $600,000 to quickly move at least 100 homeless families statewide into housing. HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said, “With partnership with local nonprofits, this program is specifically focused on homeless families, where we expect to have an immediate, noticeable and lasting impact across generations.”

Scott Morishige underscored the importance of the developments: “These are two examples of community partnerships the state is forging to effectively and quickly address homelessness.  We are looking at new and creative ways for the community to pool funds, leverage resources, and work in alignment across all sectors to house and stabilize people experiencing homelessness.”

Over the past week, representatives from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the National Governors Association have been in Hawai‘i as the Governor’s office has convened cross-sector meetings with stakeholders from every county and every sector.

Homeless Population in Hawaii Continues to Increase… Property Crimes Rising

The amount of homeless people in the entire state of Hawaii has come to a crisis level and is now affecting neighbor islands as well.

A 30% increase in Homeless folks on the Big Island alone in the last couple years is just a small example of what is happening here in Hawaii.

Homeless in Hawaii
What do you suggest we do to help the homeless situation in Hawaii?

Homeless in Hawaii – Dream What Could Be Done

A music video dedicated to Hawai’is homeless, with lyrics written by the Lana’i Class of 2020 and music by Matt Glickstein.

Please check out The Huffington Post article about this project:…


To see more music videos like this and hear the album “Songs For a Better World” by Matt Glickstein and the Lana’i Class of 2020, please visit There will also be a DVD available very soon featuring all of the music videos.

Lawmakers Told by Governor’s & Mayor’s Office that Roundup of Homeless Will Not Occur Prior to the APEC Summit

Media Release:

The House Human Services chair, Rep. John Mizuno, announced today that the state and county (Honolulu) will not seek a “sweep” or “roundup” of the homeless in Waikiki prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November 2011.



In November, Waikiki will be the center stage for the APEC Summit, before 21 APEC nations and 2,500 journalists.  In an effort to avoid a possible sweep or roundup of homeless in preparation for APEC, the House Committees on Housing and Human Services held a legislative briefing today seeking to secure a plan for a safe zone for the homeless.

During the briefing, Mufi Hannemann (former Mayor of Honolulu), representing the Hotel & Lodging Association, concurred with lawmakers that a “sweep” of homeless in the Waikiki area prior to APEC would look bad for Hawaii.  Mr. Hannemann also pledged support by the hotel association to lawmakers and stakeholders in finding both a short-term and long-term solution to reducing homelessness.



At the briefing, Rep. Mizuno read the email from Chad Buck, the Owner and CEO of the Hawaii Foodservice Alliance and the biggest individual donor (over 400,000 lbs.) of food to the Hawaii Food Bank:  “I support this effort to provide a safe zone for our homeless citizens in need and applaud the efforts by Representative Mizuno to reach out to coordinate the efforts from government, non-profits and the business community. As a business owner and resident, I recognize that the homeless issues that we face will only be solved when we stop relying on just the government. If businesses, non-profits, faith based initiatives and government agencies all join hands, the solutions will come both for the short and long term.”

At the briefing, Marc Alexander, State Homeless Coordinator & Bridget Palmer Holthus, Deputy Director of the Honolulu Department of Community Services, both confirmed their focus in reducing homelessness was on 1)  Affordable Housing, 2) Permanent Housing Solutions for homeless, and 3) Job Development.

“Today was extremely important, because we obtained a commitment from the Governor’s Office and Mayor’s Office that no “sweep” or “roundup” of the homeless in Waikiki will occur prior to or during APEC, said Rep. Mizuno. “Moreover, we confirmed support from the hotel industry and a major food distributor willing to help government in its efforts to reducing homelessness.  Today we gained concurrence with state, county, non-profits, private businesses, and faith based organizations willing to work together to better address homelessness.  A viable solution for our “safe zones” for homeless will be to expand our current homeless shelters, possibly in Kakaako and Kalaeloa, to accept some of the estimated 200 homeless in Waikiki.  These shelters provide homeless with a secured facility to sleep at night, showers, restrooms, meals, healthcare, and workforce development.”

“We have homeless with a mental illness and/or drug addiction who will refuse to go to a shelter and some are homeless by choice, so realistically we will always have a percentage of chronically homeless,” added Rep. Mizuno.  “Working together in a coordinated effort with all the stakeholders allows us greater ability to prove assistance to homeless who desire to transition back into the community.  We offer hope to those that seek it.”