Briefing to Include Discussion 959 Homeless on Maui

November 10, 2014, 12:56 PM HST · Updated November 10, 1:40 PM
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Homelessness in Hawaiʻi. Photo at The Salvation Army on Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, April 8, 2014, by Wendy Osher.

Homelessness in Hawaiʻi. Photo at The Salvation Army on Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, April 8, 2014, by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

State lawmakers have planned an informational briefing to get an update on affordable housing development plans and proposed legislation to address housing and homelessness in Hawaiʻi in 2015.

The briefing with the Senate Committee on Human Services and the House Committee on Housing will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the State Capitol.

The briefing will touch upon the latest studies relating to the homeless population in Hawaiʻi, including one study published by the State Department of Human Services that indicates there are nearly 7,000 homeless people in the state, 959 of them on Maui.

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The “Statewide Homeless Point-in-Time Count 2014” report conducted shelter and unsheltered counts of homeless in January of 2014 in the Central Maui, Lower Waiehu, Upcounty, Lahaina, Kīhei, and Hāna areas.

According to the report, there were 445 sheltered and 514 unsheltered homeless individuals on Maui in 2014, up 9.47% from the previous year.  That’s up from counts over the past two years, but down from the more than 1,000 homeless individuals counted in 2009 and 2011.

The count included 87 children who were part of families that sought shelter. The greatest populations of unsheltered homeless on Maui were located in Central Maui (186), Kīhei (136), and Lahaina (107), according to state data.

Officials with the Hawaiʻi State Senate say a separate report, “State of Homelessness in America” that takes a national look at homelessness, raked Hawaiʻi highest among the 50 states for homeless per capita in 2014.

State Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland said the state’s inability to keep up with housing demand over the years is part of the reason why there are so many homeless.  “There are just not enough affordable homes to meet needs. About 40% of our homeless are people who work and just can’t find affordable housing,” she said in a government press release.

“In 2011 ‘The Hawaii Housing Planning Study’ revealed to us that 50,000 new homes need to be built by 2016. This informational briefing will give us an opportunity to bring everyone to the table, gather information, and see what progress has been made and what more we can do this legislative session,” said Oakland.

The meeting is for presentation purposes, and no public testimony will be accepted during Wednesday’s briefing.

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