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PHOTOS: Lt. Gov. Green Surveys Homeless Situation on Big Hawai‘i

June 5, 2019, 11:24 AM HST
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Lt. Gov. Josh Green and his team toured Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Kaua‘i in May 2019 in an effort to better understand how homelessness is impacting every part of our state.

“It was an unforgettable, truly invaluable experience and I will take what I learned to heart and share it with others as we continue to combat Hawai‘i’s homeless crisis,” Lt. Gov. Green said in and email update.

Just off one of Hilo’s main roads is a dirt path leading to people living in the woods close to town—just a half-block away from Target and Walmart.

Hope Services outreach workers lead Lt. Gov. Green and Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy to the encampment to call attention to the growing homeless crisis on the Big Island.

Councilwoman Loy told Lt. Gov. Green about homelessness on the Big Island, which, she said, is taking a toll on the county’s resources as the island also struggles to recover from last year’s Kīlauea eruption, which destroyed more than 700 homes, Hurrricane Lane flooding and damage, and other natural disasters.

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The councilwoman said emergency services are really feeling the pressure, adding that the county’s first responders have been overwhelmed with 911 calls regarding the homeless.

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Calls range from reports about trespassing and theft to fights and vandalism, according to a report by Hawaii News Now.

Communities are also seeing drugs or drug use in kids as young as 12, Councilwoman Loy said.

However, there is some relief forecast in the near future.

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The Big Island is transforming the old Memorial Hospital into Hawai‘i Island’s first ‘ohana zone, which may open bt the end of summer. The facility will have bed space for up to 50 men.

The first shelter for families in West Hawai‘i is also set to open in Kona later this year.

A kauhale—an outdoor community for families—may be in the  works in East Hawai‘i.

Lt. Gov. Green said the community would be made up of small houses, quickly constructed, possibly made with recycled materials like containers.

“Mahalo to everyone I met along the way who shared their stories, their ideas, and their aloha,” Lt. Gov. Green said.

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