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What does it take to convince four chronic homeless to get off streets?
By News Release @ 3:43 PM :: 859 Views :: Honolulu County, Homelessness

TEAM WorkHawaii makes a huge difference in peoples lives

Kumuwai Elderly Apartments on Young Street where formerly homeless persons have been housed

TEAM WorkHawaii makes a huge difference in people’s lives

News release from City and County of Honolulu, March 7, 2022

(Without force, this is what it takes to get chronic homeless to voluntarily accept shelter.)

HONOLULU – Today, the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Community Services’ WorkHawaii Division shared a few success stories that were made possible with lots of outreach, care and engagement through partnering with the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness and the State’s Homelessness Programs Office. 

TEAM (Teach, Educate, Advocate and Motivation) WorkHawaii, is a group of experienced and skilled outreach workers and housing coordinators that formed in July 2020 using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the CARES Act. The purpose of TEAM WorkHawaii is to assist individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, at risk for homelessness, unemployed or under employed. Through its island-wide outreach missions, the TEAM disseminates information on WorkHawaii’s employment, education and job training programs such as YouthBuild Honolulu which was initially implemented in August 1999 through a HUD grant.

The TEAM helps project participants secure housing and employment and provides them with resources for food, medical assistance and identification attainment. Recently, the TEAM gained access to the State Public Safety facilities to provide job readiness and life skills training and case management services that prepares men and women for reentry back into the community from incarceration.

One of the main advantages of TEAM WorkHawaii is their ability supplement existing Federal, State and City funded street outreach programs to provide coordination of City resources and programs to make shelter and housing diversion efforts more successful.

As an example of this coordination, in January 2022, four formerly homeless persons were housed by TEAM WorkHawaii (TWH) in Kumuwai Elderly Apartments on Young Street. Here are their stories:

TEAM WorkHawaii Miles Kakimoto

Name: Miles Kakimoto

Unsheltered: 11+ years.

Location: Corner of Sheridan & Rycroft Street, near Walmart Ke‘eaumoku

Disability: Physical. He suffered from a stroke, paralysis on right side of body

“How the program has impacted my life?”

Response: “I was homeless at this corner for 11 plus years after I suffered a massive stroke. Couldn’t work anymore and I lost everything. TWH came to visit me the 1st time and offered me services like employment and housing, and gave me a goody bag. At first I said to myself, Sure! I’ve heard it all before from other agencies and no one returned. The day before Halloween, TWH came back again. I met with Kui, she completed the paperwork and then she talked about the senior housing on Young Street. She asked, “Do you see yourself still sitting here at this spot a year from now?” I said, “Possibly”, she said to me, “No, I will help you get into housing.” After 2 more visits and numerous phone calls, she called me and said, “You got accepted to Kumuwai Senior Housing!” Oh! My God! I was so happy I couldn’t believe it. In less than three months I got housed! She promised move-in before Christmas, best present ever. WOW! It changed me, my mental health, and I know my life is soooo much better! Thank you TWH for saving my life! I have a refrigerator, I can sleep with both eyes shut, and most important, I can charge my phone. Thank you, you got to love people in order to help people!”

TEAM WorkHawaii Vanessa Williams 2

Name:  Vanessa Williams

Unsheltered:  20+ years

Location:  Waipahu Plantation Village

Disability: Yes

How the program has impacted their life?

“It’s about time. I waited so long for this. I didn’t believe it was going to happen. Everyone always tell me there’s services. People come one time and that’s it. But you (Niva) always checked on me and tell me to be patient and helped me along the way. Now I believe get people to help. So thank you Niva and her team. I’m so happy to finally move out this place.”

TEAM WorkHawaii Rodney Calivo

Name:  Rodney Calivo

Unsheltered: 11-15 years

Location: Hau Bush Beach Park, ‘Ewa; Marisco Boat Harbor, Kapolei; Wai‘anae Civic Center; HONU

How has program impacted your life?

“This will give me a longer life.”

TEAM WorkHawaii Kerry Matsunaga

Name:  Kerry Matsunaga

Unsheltered:  20+ years

Location:  Waipahu Plantation Village in the creek area

Disability:  Yes

How the program has impacted their life? 

“Just everything. It’s going to make my life so much easier. Thank you Niva and her team for not giving up on me.”

In addition to helping Miles, Vanessa, Rodney and Kerry, TEAM WorkHawaii’s accomplishments to date are as follow:

TEAM Accomplishments:

(July 2021 to Present)

720 unsheltered individuals were provided information on WorkHawaii programs and services.
100 unsheltered individuals were assisted with entry into the HONU and transitional and emergency shelters.
68 unemployed or under employed individuals received assistance with securing a job.
42 individuals experiencing homelessness or at-risk for homelessness received financial assistance for a security deposit or the 1st month rent.
30 unsheltered individuals secured housing through the TEAM’s assistance. 
26 individuals released from incarceration were provided information on WorkHawaii programs and services.

“TEAM WorkHawaii is proof that time, patience and relationships are what builds success with persons experiencing homelessness”, said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “The hard work and accomplishments of our City team show that giving people a hand up and not a hand out is a better strategy in the long run. Are we going to be able to help everyone? No, but we will be able to help those who recognize their need for assistance and want to be helped, whether through CORE, HONU or TEAM WorkHawaii.”

Anton Krucky, Director of the Department of Community Services, shared, “I’m extremely appreciative of Leinaala Nakamura and her WorkHawaii Division for all that they do! TEAM WorkHawaii, American Job Center Hawai‘i and YouthBuild Honolulu are programs geared toward creating stronger foundations in people’s lives.”

“The housing of these four individuals are great examples of how partnering and leveraging should work between the Federal, State and City governments,” added Scott Morishige, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “These are the kinds of successes the Administration and Legislature envisioned when it passed $32 million in ‘Ohana Zone funds to address homelessness statewide.”

—PAU—

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