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Wednesday, May 15, 2024
How DHS Policy Change Drives Homeless Count UP, UP, UP
By News Release @ 7:15 PM :: 1325 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Homelessness


Effective Feb 1, 2017, the Hawaii DHS mandated more square footage per shelter bed, thus reducing the profitibility of homeless shelters and reducing the number of beds available. 

In March, 2020, Hawaii DOH mandated even more spacing between shelter beds due to COVID. 

The obvious result of these policy changes is less shelter space and therefore more unsheltered homeless as indicated above.  2017 and 2020 are marked on the chart above by a sharp decreases in sheltered homeless population.  2017 produced and increase in unsheltered.  2020's effect is hidden by the choice not to count unsheltered in 2021.   

The increase in unsheltered makes homelessness seem like more of a crisis, therefore more money flows to DHS.  First rule of bureaucracy: Maintain the problem.  

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Point In Time Count

from Partners in Care, May 15, 2024 (excerpts)

4,494 Homeless were counted on Oahu the night of January 22, 2024.  -- up 12% from 2023

62% unsheltered -- 2.766 individuals were staying on the streets or other places not meant for human habitation -- up 17% from 2023

38% sheltered -- 1.728 individuals were staying in Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing or Vet Safe Haven -- up 4% from 2023

From 2017 to 2022, the Point in Time Count showed a 26% decrease. However, all populations have seen increases since 2022. Examining the sheltered versus unsheltered populations, the sheltered count has decreased by 50% since 2010, and the unsheltered has increased by 62%, accounting for the bulk of the increase in the Point in Time count population.

What is PIT?

The Point in Time Count (PIT Count) is a federally mandated census count from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to be completed biennially by each Continuum of Care across the United States. The PIT Count provides a snapshot of all those experiencing homelessness in our shelters, streets, beaches, cars, or other places not meant for human habitation. The PIT Count is vital for establishing federal funding from HUD as well as State, local and private funding to help end homelessness on O‘ahu. Although the PIT Count report represents a snapshot at one point in time, it provides us an opportunity to look at the trends and demographics of those experiencing homelessness in our community on a single night and across multiple years of Counts.

PDF: 2024 POINT IN TIME COUNT - Community Report

LINK: Previous PIT Reports

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News Release from Office of the Governor, May 15, 2024

HONOLULU – Governor Josh Green, M.D., today outlined his administration’s groundbreaking efforts to expand its homeless programs – especially those targeting the state’s chronic homeless population.

In the 2024 Oʻahu Point in Time Count (PIT) report released today, Partners In Care found that Oʻahu’s homeless population grew 12% from the previous year from 4,028 to 4,494.

That included a 17% jump in unsheltered homeless residents from last year’s 2,365 to 2,766 and a 4% jump in sheltered homeless individuals from 1,663 in 2023 to 1,728.

“This report underscores the need to tackle Hawaiʻi’s homeless crisis with bold and innovative solutions and it shows how much more work we have ahead to meet our goal of reducing the state’s homeless population by 50%,” Governor Green said.

The Governor said he was encouraged by a key finding in the report: That Oʻahu’s chronic homeless population declined this year.

According to the PIT Count report, there were 535 fewer chronically homeless people living on the streets – a decrease of 16% from 3,355 last year. The report defines a chronically homeless person as someone who has been homeless for at least a year or who has been homeless on four or more occasions over a three-year period. Many of these people not only face economic hardship, but suffer mental health problems, substance abuse and other diseases such as diabetes.

The chronic homeless account for a disproportionate share of the health care costs in our homeless safety net system. A report by the University of Hawaiʻi Center on the Family found that the average healthcare costs for a chronically homeless person treated in the ER, in substance abuse programs and in other healthcare settings is about $8,162 a month – or 76% higher than that of a homeless person in a sheltered environment.

That’s a healthcare cost savings of about $3.3 million based on the reduction of Hawaiʻi’s chronically homeless population.

“This shows that our efforts to house our houseless neighbors with our Kauhale Initiative, are on the right track,” said Governor Green. “We plan to open a total of 13 kauhale around the state by the end of the year and more than two dozen by 2026, creating 1,400 to 1,700 new units to shelter and provide wrap-around services for our most vulnerable population.”

An important point not mentioned in the PIT Count: Since the Point In Time Count was conducted in January, the state and the City and County of Honolulu built six kauhale on Oʻahu, including Kāneʻohe, Middle Street, Waikīkī, Wilson Street and Iwilei – placing a roof over the heads of hundreds of Hawaiʻi’s homeless individuals and families.

“We aren’t doing this alone. Thanks to our unprecedented partnership with the City and County of Honolulu, we are working closely with Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration in opening new kauhale and in providing additional homeless services throughout Oʻahu,” Green said.

The partnership and collaboration between the city and state toward housing the homeless is unprecedented, said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “We knew that city resources alone would not be enough to tackle this really difficult issue, but the fact we are able to partner with the state, given our combined resources, we can really make a difference. Weʻre determined to do that, the right way.

At the Iwilei Resource Center, the state and the city are working together to provide shelter, support and medical treatment for homeless individuals who aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital.

The state is also expanding the “Return to Home” program to fly back out-of-state homeless individuals who want to be with their network of family and friends as they get back on their feet. This year, the state is providing an additional $500,000 in funding for the program, the Governor said.

  • The news conference can be viewed here.
  • Images from the news conference, courtesy Office of the Governor, are available online.
  • Governor Green presented this slide deck during the news conference.
  • Renderings of the Iwilei kauhale can be found here.

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SA: Oahu homeless numbers continue to rise

SA: Oahu homeless figures to be released

HNN: COMING UP: Governor, mayor to hold joint news conference on homeless count

HNN: Count: Despite new programs, number of homeless on Oahu increased by nearly 12% this year

CB: The Number Of People Living On The Streets Of Oahu Has Nearly Doubled In The Last Decade - Honolulu Civil Beat

Big Q: Regarding homelessness, are Hawaii’s policies/actions on the right track?

SA: Kokua Line: PIT Report Does not Reveal How many homeless are new to Oahu

SA: Big increase in homeless families on Oahu puts more keiki at risk

SA: Editorial: Take advantage of solutions at hand 


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