Gov. Ige Creates Team on Homelessness

July 28, 2015, 1:25 PM HST · Updated July 28, 1:26 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 Maui Now Staff

Gov. David Ige has announced the formation of the Governor’s Leadership Team on Homelessness, which will be tasked with finding short- and long-term solutions as the state, city and federal governments work together to address homelessness in Hawai‘i.

The leadership team includes Gov. Ige, Sen. Jill Tokuda, Rep. Sylvia Luke, Director of Human Services Rachael Wong, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, US Sen. Brian Schatz’s designee and US Sen. Mazie Hirono’s designee.

“The underlying issues that lead to homelessness, such as lack of affordable housing, cannot be resolved quickly,” said Gov. Ige. “Meanwhile, we cannot wait for a comprehensive, long-term solution. There are measures we can take and will take, immediately.”

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The Governor’s Leadership Team on Homelessness will:

  • identify and assign parcels of land to be used for the creation of temporary shelters in one or two communities
  • implement measures to transfer residents of homeless encampments to shelters
  • work with service providers to establish protocols to assess shelter residents for financial, physical, mental health and other needs
  • and determine costs and obtain funding to meet these objectives.

The leadership team will consult with law enforcement leaders, nonprofit organizations and other interested parties to assist with implementing short-term objectives.

As a result of the team’s discussions and findings, legislation may be introduced in January 2016 to fulfill unmet or unfunded needs and services.

“The legislature understands the gravity of the situation and the need to pull all executive and governmental agencies to the table in an effort to execute and implement solutions that can be replicated in communities across the state,” said Sen. Tokuda, chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“We really need to come together on enforcement, but also in providing alternative sites and coordinated services. This is a monumental step to pull together resources of the federal, state and county governments,” said Rep. Luke, chair, House Finance Committee.

“This isn’t just another committee,” Gov. Ige said. “This team is making a commitment to work together to find solutions now. There is something important going on. We are the people responsible for the public’s welfare. This team is meeting face to face to address homelessness and we are going to hold each other accountable.”

The protocol developed by the leadership team on homelessness may be applied to encampments in additional geographic areas. The leadership team’s work will also be applied to long-term needs.

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