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Governor reveals action plan on homelessness

MEDIA RELEASE

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his Coordinator on Homelessness Marc Alexander have announced a comprehensive 90-Day Plan, a critical step in their overall mission to end homelessness in Hawaii.

“We have to be coordinated and collaborative in our approach to homelessness so we can face this challenge as a society. This plan is about taking immediate action together,” said Abercrombie at a press conference, joined by about a dozen stakeholders who have been working on this plan for the past three months. “We are determined to get this done – and the next 90 days are critical.”

The 90-Day Plan coordinates government, non-profits, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, shelter and outreach services, and citizens to increase opportunities for people who are homeless to receive services.

The plan outlines nine specific objectives:

1. Identify and assess people who are chronically homeless for immediate services in Waikiki and the urban core of Honolulu.

2. Support the chronically homeless and chronically mentally ill who need mental health treatment.

3. Identify available substance abuse treatment services and gaps in services to maximize access for the chronically homeless in need.

4. Identify and provide outreach as early as possible where persons who are homeless are established or increasing in number.

5. Coordinate community efforts to maintain clean public areas.

6. Ensure that existing shelters are maximized for capacity and service.

7. Provide information about sound relocation and financial planning, including Hawaii’s high cost of living, to individuals and families outside of Hawaii who inquire about the availability of services.

8. Establish the State Interagency Council on Homelessness.

9. Educate the general public about the most effective means to eliminate homelessness.

“Solving homelessness will not happen in a day or a week or two weeks,” said Alexander, “but through persistence and coordinated action, we will achieve results.”

This Plan includes visible action and results that will be measured. A new State Interagency Council on Homelessness will be formed to address broader issues, such as affordable housing strategies, in a long-term, statewide plan.

“All of us in the nonprofit community are aware of the magnitude of the challenges, but we are invigorated by the attention paid and efforts undertaken by the Governor and his team,” said Darryl Vincent, Chair of Partners in Care and the local Director of U.S. Vets, a non-profit serving homeless and at-risk veterans.

The 90-Day Plan will utilize existing resources and does not rely on any additional government funding. The state and other agencies will seek partnerships with the private sector, emphasizing a shared commitment from the entire community.

According to 2007 data, Hawaii has twice as many people who are homeless per 100,000 people as the national average. Almost one-third of the sheltered homeless are children; more than 10 percent are veterans; and over 60 percent have lived in Hawaii for more than 10 years.

Almost half of the families who are homeless include someone who is employed, and almost 30 percent are Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian.

Alexander said, “Just as there is no single profile for someone who is homeless, there are no simple solutions to ending homelessness. The exciting part of the 90-Day Plan is that it requires us to work together in new and creative ways to get the job done.”

The 90-Day Plan is a collaborative effort led by Alexander and includes the following statewide organizations:

* Bridging The Gap
* Waikiki Health Center
* City & County of Honolulu Department of Community Services
* Institute of Human Services
* State Department of Human Services Homeless Programs
* Waianae Community Outreach
* Partners in Care
* U.S. Vets

Abercrombie also said the public is a critical partner in this effort. Last month the governor announced the establishment of call-in numbers for citizens who want to help a person who is homeless or may need health and safety intervention.

These helplines are:

* Waikiki Health Center’s Care-A-Van Program on O’ahu: (808) 791-9359; homelesshelp@waikikihc.org
* HOPE Services on Hawaii Island: (808) 935-3050; info@hopeserviceshawaii.org
* Family Life Center on Maui: (808) 877-0880; wanda@flcmaui.org
* Kauai Economic Opportunity: call (808) 245.4077, x228; keo@keoinc.org

Persons wishing to help someone who may be suffering from homelessness must provide the following information:

* The location and time when the homeless individual is known to frequent the area
* A detailed description of the individual or group
* The caller’s contact information

After a report is made, an outreach team will be assigned to visit the person. Emails and calls can be placed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emails are preferred.

For the latest information about the state’s efforts in the fight against homelessness, visit the governor’s website at hawaii.gov/gov

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