Big Island Coronavirus Updates

HOPE, Holiday Inn Partner to House High-Risk Homeless

April 10, 2020, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated April 10, 8:34 PM
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HOPE Services Christine Tabac, Alyssa Souza, Derick Kai and Carrie Hoʻopiʻi prep rooms for elderly houseless at the Kailua-Kona Holiday Inn Express. PC: HOPE Services

HOPE Services Hawai‘i has partnered with the Holiday Inn Express to offer shelter to dozens of houseless kūpuna amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals began into private rooms at the hotel on Thursday, April 9. Guests were referred by Hope Services, with priority given to those who are at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19, including kupuna and immunocompromised individuals.

The partnership comes amid the state’s stay-at-home order, which requires residents not to leave their homes unless they are performing certain essential activities. But not everyone has a place to call home.

According to Bridging the Gap, a network of homeless service providers across the neighbor islands, 1,324 people on Hawaiʻi Island received homeless services last year. At least 7% of those were kūpuna.

While becoming houseless puts all people at an elevated risk for a host of health problems, for some it can be deadly.

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“CDC guidelines recommend that we all shelter in place, but not everyone has that luxury,” said HOPE Services CEO Brandee Menino. “We all have a role to play — from nonprofits to businesses to the county. It’s our responsibility as citizens to follow guidance from the infectious disease experts to make sure we protect the most vulnerable members of our ʻohana.”

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HOPE Services Hawai‘i staff is partnering alongside Holiday Inn Express staff 24/7. Hotel personnel are providing in-room housekeeping services every three days, as well as disinfecting common areas and preparing daily to-go breakfasts. HOPE Services team members are, in essence, an extension of the hotel staff on-site to provide guests the support they need throughout their stay.

In order to qualify for this program, people experiencing homelessness must first register with HOPE Services. To register, call 808-935-3050 or email [email protected]. You may also make a referral if you know someone who is currently homeless. HOPE asks that interested parties do not visit the hotel, as no visitors will be allowed in the building.

HOPE is accepting hand sanitizers, face masks and gloves for the houseless community and staff. Call Joycelyn Cabal at 808-217-2830 or contact her by email at [email protected] to make a donation. Those interested can visit hopeserviceshawaii.org to make a financial contribution.

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