News

Hirono Co-Introduces Bill to Fight Homelessness

November 30, 2019, 4:30 PM HST
* Updated November 30, 3:49 PM
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, June 2019. Courtesy photo

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono co-introduced a bill with the goal of increasing federal investment programs to alleviate homelessness and poverty.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) were also part of presenting The Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act. The legislation lays out a 10-year investment in federal housing and homelessness programs. It would provide a long-term, dependable level of investment in four federal housing programs that have proven successful in combating homelessness and housing poverty across the country – Emergency Solutions Grants, Continuum of Care Grants, the Housing Trust Fund, and tenant-based rental assistance.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates the act would effectively end homelessness and housing poverty in the United States.

“Communities and service providers in Hawaii and across the country do the best they can with the resources they have to help our neighbors in need. However, federal dollars simply don’t go far enough. At the same time, too many workers and families struggle to get and keep affordable rental housing,” Hirono stated. “The Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act rejects the divisive policies of the Trump Administration, and lays out the sustained, 10-year federal investment that on-the-ground providers and experts estimate is needed to help get those most in need off the street and into supportive, safe housing quickly and expand affordable housing stock for the long-term.”

The state of Hawai‘i had an estimated 6,530 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given day as of January 2018, according to reports by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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Of that Total, 623 were family households, 532 were veterans, 189 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 1,714 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

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In an effort to assist those on the Big Island, men’s shelter recently opened in Hilo. The old Hilo Memorial Hospital, located on Rainbow Drive, will serve as the Keolahou Shelter and Assessment Center, initially providing 25 emergency beds. This will be first facility on the island that will serve as a 24-hour assessment center.

The Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act consists of four provisons: two of which would help states and organizations on the ground get those experiencing homelessness into shelter quickly and efficiently, and two focused on expanding access to safe, affordable housing.

The legislation has the support of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

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