East Hawaii News

Big Island Homeless Numbers Increase

June 18, 2015, 2:11 PM HST
* Updated June 18, 2:13 PM
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The 2015 Statewide Point in Time count conducted by the Department of Human Services Homeless Programs Office was released Thursday. In the count, which took place on Jan. 25 of this year, a cross section of homelessness across the state was represented.

Homelessness on the Big Island has continuously increased over the past three years, with a 55 percent increase in the number of unsheltered individuals and families, compared to 2014. An increase has also been seen in sheltered populations

With the aim of estimating the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families throughout the state at a given point in time, the PIT helps service providers and the community understand homelessness in Hawai’i. The count assists service providers in evaluating current levels of homelessness for various household types, the number of chronically homeless individuals and families, and the extent of homelessness among veterans and youth.

Big Island homelessness increased in 2015 to a total of 1,141 single and household individuals from 869 total individuals in 2014. Of the 1141 homeless individuals in 2015, only 12 percent (94) of the single individuals were sheltered, while 27 percent (126) of individuals part of a family household were sheltered.

Those who were reported as unsheltered single individuals and individuals part of a family household accounted for 88 percent (676) and 73 percent (345), respectively.

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“It is clear that we must collaborate with the counties to address the rising numbers of homeless individuals and families across the state. I fully support the Housing First Initiative and similar programs that provide transitional and permanent emergency housing, job training, referral services for mental illness and addiction and other social services,” Governor David Ige said in response to the PIT count report.

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The refinement of the 2015 count methodology was a collaboration between the DHS Homeless Program Office, City & County of Honolulu, Bridging the Gap, and Partners in Care.

“Providers and community volunteers worked hard to design and implement a better coordinated 2015 PIT survey system and the results prove that we’ve made systematic progress,” says Lori Tsuhako, Administrator of the DHS Homeless Programs Office. “While there is always room for improvement, operational counts are better and outreach workers are more effectively locating and assessing homeless individuals and families.”

To learn more about programs and services offered on the Big Island for homeless individuals and families, visit the DHS Homeless Programs Office website.

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