Visitor Industry Distributes $61K to Big Island Homelessness Services

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The HLTA, in partnership with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, distributed $61,000 to seven nonprofit organizations on Hawai‘i Island that serve the homeless. Courtesy photo

The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, in partnership with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, distributed $61,000 on Thursday, April 4, 2019, to seven nonprofit organizations on Hawai‘i Island that serve the homeless.

The recipients were Catholic Charities Hawaii, Habitat for Humanity, Hawai‘i County Economic Opportunity Council, Hawai‘i Food Basket, Hawai‘i Island Home for Recovery, Hope Services Hawaii and The Salvation Army.

The organizations, which have been serving the homeless on Hawai‘i Island in tourism-impacted areas, were all selected by the HLTA based on county chapter input and subject to final approval by the state board.


HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann and HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum presented the grants at a ceremony held at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. They were joined by HLTA Hawai‘i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson.

Hannemann said, “These matching grants were the result of a very productive public-private partnership of the state Legislature and administration, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and visitor industry, as represented by the HLTA. All of the money from the state, both tax revenues and matching funds, were generated by our top industry, tourism. Moreover, it’s going to a cause that addresses a long-standing concern for our entire community, not just the visitor industry.

“The HLTA has donated more than $2 million to date to homelessness service providers, most of it through our annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk,” Hannemann said. “This latest endeavor enables us to expand our charitable endeavors with the support of the state government. We’re especially grateful to Chris Tatum and his HTA team for their supportive partnership.”


Tatum said, “The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is very pleased to join with the visitor industry, through the HLTA, in contributing to helping the homeless and supporting those organizations that are serving this population throughout the state. Homelessness affects the experiences of our millions of visitors, employees in resort areas, and the general public. Any measures we can take to find solutions are needed and welcome, and I’m encouraged that we’ll be seeing more work in this regard in the months ahead.”

“Today’s check presentation represents a breakthrough collaboration between the Visitor Industry and State of Hawai‘i in providing financial support to the important organizations who are working tirelessly to help our homeless population in need,” said Anderson.

Hope Services Hawaii Chief Executive Officer Brandee Menino said that “to receive these matching funds, we are definitely grateful and very appreciative of the partnership and the generosity of HTA, HLTA, and the champion, Representative Richard Onishi, for helping us to get these funds. They really help us to make impactful work in our community.”


“We are just so grateful for this wonderful surprise, because what we do with our Charity Walk monies is, we provide gap assistance for households and families in crisis: families who are just one crisis for them to be unable to pay rent, or utilities,” said Elizabeth Naholowa’a Murph, the Hawai‘i Island community director for Catholic Charities Hawaii. “This means we can help more families. We’ve already run out of funding from last year’s Charity Walk. That’s been exhausted; this will carry us through, for several more months. And we have a lot of families in need right now.”

The funding was authorized by Act 86 (2018), which was championed by House Tourism Chair Rep. Richard Onishi and Senate Tourism Chair Sen. Glenn Wakai. The measure appropriated up to $1 million dollars from the general revenues of the State of Hawai‘i to nonprofit organizations addressing homelessness in tourism-impacted areas throughout the state. That revenue is to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the private sector.

Kaua‘i groups received their grants on Monday, April 1. Maui allocations were Tuesday, April 2 and the O‘ahu presentations were held earlier on Thursday, April 4.

About the HLTA

The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association is a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, other lodging entities, suppliers, and related firms and individuals. HLTA is dedicated to supporting Hawai‘i’s visitor industry through education, political action, and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.

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