Homeless Repatriation Program Officially Expands to Maui

October 16, 2015, 6:37 PM HST · Updated October 16, 6:46 PM
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Building on the success of the Waikīkī Outreach Program initiated a year ago, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association and The Institute for Human Services today announced they are expanding their partnership to Maui with a new repatriation program.

Maui Now shared the information earlier this week by publishing an exclusive interview with HTLA President and CEO Mufi Hannemann.

“Homelessness is an issue for communities statewide,” said Hannemann during a check presentation to the Maui Family Life Center today.  The presentation was made on Friday, Oct. 16, during the HLTA membership meeting at the Wailea Marriott.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

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“IHS has been an excellent partner in helping the visitor industry and government to address the problem of homelessness in Waikīkī. We want to continue building on our success in Waikīkī, but also begin making inroads to finding solutions on the neighbor islands,” said Hannemann.

HLTA and IHS presented a check to Maui Family Life Center for $25,000 to launch the Maui repatriation program. According to IHS, the funds will assist a minimum of 80 homeless individuals on Maui with airline relocation to be reconnected with family members, friends, or social service providers that can end their homeless situation.  Hannemann estimated that the program could help as many as 120 individuals relocate from Maui to the mainland.

Connie Mitchell, IHS Executive Director said, “Maui Family Life Center provides similar services to IHS, including emergency shelter, housing placement programs, and island-wide homeless outreach. Like IHS, they are often the first organization that homeless individuals encounter. They coordinate with the Maui Police Department, Maui County and Salvation Army for homeless outreach needs,” she said in a post event press release.

Mitchell added Maui made the most sense to initiate a neighbor island repatriation program, which requires that the homeless person being assisted contribute a portion of the cost for airfare.

“After launching the homeless outreach program in Waikīkī last year, our IHS outreach team received many calls from Maui service providers and clients asking for help. Many were particularly interested in our relocation program. There is a high demand statewide to expand this program elsewhere, but we wanted to start with Maui because of its high population of recent arrivals, and knowing there are many direct flights to the mainland.”

“Our outreach workers are frequently asked to contact family or friends on the mainland, so this program will benefit not only the individuals who need assistance, but also our community as a whole as our resources are stretched and limited,” said Maude Cumming, MFLC Executive Director.

“Family Life Center is currently working with two individuals that need assistance with returning to family on the mainland. Both individuals have significant health needs and our staff has made contact with their families and plan to utilize funding from this program.”

HLTA, Visitor Industry Generate $1.07M for Homeless Programs Statewide in 2014-2015

The fundraising efforts of HLTA and its visitor industry and allied partners in 2014 and 2015 has generated $1.07-million in donations for homelessness programs being offered by 37 nonprofit organizations statewide, including IHS. The funds were raised through the annual Charity Walk, Hawai‘i for Hawai‘i concert in May 2015, and with in-kind contributions made by industry partners, such as bedding, household supplies and daily goods.

Hannemann pledged that going forward HLTA and its visitor industry partners will continue to support nonprofits and programs committed to solving homelessness throughout Hawai‘i. He announced the formation of the HLTA Homelessness Committee through its Government Affairs division. He said the committee will be comprised of stakeholders from the visitor industry and ex officio members from the private and public sectors and the nonprofit community.

“The committee’s mission will be to keep coming up with new and better solutions to address, correct and solve the homelessness issue throughout Hawai‘i,” said Hannemann.

HLTA Donates $100,000 to Support Waikīkī Outreach Program

HLTA also presented IHS with a check for $100,000 on Sept. 30 as continued support of the Waikīkī Outreach Program that HLTA helped IHS launch in November 2014, also with a $100,000 check at that time. In the 11 months since then, IHS has served 355 homeless individuals in Waikīkī.

Of that total, 254 homeless individuals have been removed from the streets, with 139 being placed in housing or shelters and an additional 115 being relocated outside of Hawai‘i through the repatriation  program.

Hannemann said continued strong support from the visitor industry is needed for the Waikīkī Outreach Program to keep working to maximum effect. “Today, the situation in Waikīkī is much improved, but the problem is not solved. We know there are still many homeless people throughout Waikīkī, but they are doing a better job of not being so visible, especially during the day. The program initiated a year ago was just the start. We still have a big job in front of us, one that requires all of our stakeholders to remain diligent in building on the momentum achieved thus far for Waikīkī.”

HLTA and IHS also unveiled at the event a re-branded shuttle van, now called the Aloha Express, to be used by IHS in transporting homeless people in Waikīkī for medical care, meals and shelter. “We want those who are suffering from homelessness and wanting a better life to see and feel the aloha that Hawai‘i has for helping them,” said Hannemann. “We renamed the shuttle van so that the first words the homeless see when boarding to seek help is aloha.”

The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association is a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, and other lodging entities. HLTA is dedicated to supporting Hawai‘i’s lodging industry through education, political action and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.

The Institute for Human Services, is a comprehensive 501(C) 3 private, non-profit social services agency working to prevent and end homelessness in Hawai‘i. IHS’s mission is to provide “respite for those who are unsheltered and solutions that transform the lives of homeless and at-risk people.” IHS’s vision is “a community where everyone has a right to, and responsibility for safe, decent, and affordable housing.”

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