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Mayor’s Task Force on Homeless Positive After First Meeting

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

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

The Mayor’s Maui Homeless Initiative, a task force put together to address solutions to homelessness and affordable housing in Maui County, held its first meeting today.

Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone said the meeting went well.

“Those in attendance were enthusiastic, but also know very well that the task before them is not a simple one. They remain very motivated. Nobody wants to see tent cities on the side walk,” said Antone in a telephone interview.

“People realize that there’s a lot of moving parts that involve coordination with the state, as well as new legislation being proposed at the county and state level,” said Antone.

He classified solutions into two categories including: (1) temporary ones involving social services to alleviate the impact on the community including stolen shopping carts, loitering, etc.; and (2) long term solutions that require a more permanent fix including housing.

The Initiative includes participation from leaders with the state Department of Housing and Human Concerns, the Mayor’s Office of Management, non-profits and private sector employees.

Key areas of interest and concern include issues surrounding chronic homeless, those in need of Section 8 Housing, those seeking rental housing opportunities and those interested in qualifying for Work Force housing.

According to the latest 2015 Statewide Point in Time Count compiled by the state Department of Human Services, there are an estimated 1,137 homeless individuals on Maui. That translates to a 12% increase in the homeless population on Maui from year before levels.