Sadly, homelessness has become an epidemic all throughout the United States, however, the often overlooked state of Hawaii, is currently being hit the hardest, and at an alarming rate.
Often only discussed when making tropical vacation plans, Hawaii has had an increase in the homeless population every year, for the past five years.
These increases are not small amounts by any means either, In fact, Hawaii has one of the USA’s largest growing homeless populations (between 2007 and 2016, Hawaii saw a 30.5% increase in homelessness)
To put things into perspective, here are some of the most recent statistics for 2016, and again, they are alarming and heartbreaking.
Current Homeless Statistics, as of January 2016:
Take a look at the Big Island’s current state of homelessness and the rental market-
Now, compare the homeless statistics with the current housing market. It’s not hard to see what one of the main issues is. Increased housing costs and an extremely low minimum wage. In addition, there have been no cost of living increases in several years, yet the cost of everything else, has.
Not only are the numbers high, but there is also very little help offered, or any substantial resources available currently. This is Due to the fact that homelessness can, and will, affect tourism negatively; currently allowing it to be criminalized in high tourist areas.
However, this may be changing in the near future, and it has been noted that The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has stated that it would not provide homeless assistance funds to states that criminalize homelessness. Given the situation and high volume increase in numbers, Hawaii is in a poor position to reject federal funding and assistance from non-governmental organizations.
Due to these factors, recent court disapproval, repeals and police discretion, it is likely that over time strict panhandling laws in Hawaii will lessen in severity.
Clearly, some major evaluations need to be addressed, and soon! I can’t imagine that a state that is infamous for its tourism, and 5-star resorts, would allow their local residents no other options, then to sleep on the beaches and sidewalks, especially those with children.
However, based on the figures from last year, it appears they are fully aware of this epidemic, but are prioritizing tourism higher than it’s citizens. An approach that will surely backfire
So, what’s the good news in all of this?
There are solutions!
Solutions, and small rays of light at the end of this tunnel. One short term fix is a project called LIFT. They will be taking around 70 outdated city buses (high mileage) and transforming them into homeless shelters, housing units and showers.
You can read all about this project in the article below, originally posted by Good News Network.
However, as awesome as this project is, with an epidemic of this magnitude, permanent solutions also need to be determined and implemented, and that’s where Hope Services Hawaii comes into play.
HOPE Services Hawaii, Inc.
“Brings respect, intention and structure to every individual and family that we serve. Like the first corner posts that are placed, we provide basic needs through outreach for a firm foundation on solid ground. We provide emergency, transitional, and permanent shelter from the storm.”
They are the largest resource available to homeless individuals and families in Hawaii, and as you can imagine they are a bit overwhelmed with the influx in those they need to assist.
If you are needing housing assistance you can reach out for help by following this link: Outreach Programs/Housing Assistance
If you would like to donate/and or volunteer with Hope Services Hawaii simply follow this link: How can I help?
And please let them know that Hooray Cafe sent you!
To those that will be going to bed tonight without a stable place to call your own, we here at Hooray Cafe would like you to know you are in our thoughts, and we are sending nothing but positive vibes your way.
We will continue to follow and report on this story, as well as the many others that mainstream media tends to forget about. The more eyes that see this, ensures that there are more hearts reaching out to help in any way that they can.
Hang in there, it will get better.