Shuttle service touted as helping get Waikiki homeless to shelters

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell touted on Monday the ongoing success of the Institute for Human Services’ Waikiki Homeless Outreach Initiative, especially in light of the recent addition of a shuttle service.

The F.A.S.T. (Food and Shower Transport) 25-passenger shuttle “is reaching out to homeless in Waikiki, helping them to get on a bus, and get to one of the IHS shelters where they can take a shower, get a good meal, maybe help find a job,” the mayor said.

IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell said in a press release that “the F.A.S.T. Shuttle now provides direct access by transporting homeless to IHS shelters for three hours, three times a week. While at IHS, clients connect with personnel from housing, employment and health clinics.”

Outreach workers issue a voucher to each person boarding the shuttle. The voucher identifies pick-up times at three locations – the Waikiki Shell parking lot, St. Augustine’s Church, and Ala Moana Beach Park.

Photo courtesy IHS
Photo courtesy IHS

Since its soft launch on February 20, 28 individuals have reportedly taken advantage of the new service and six of those clients have since chosen to stay at an IHS shelter.

“Our initial results show it’s been very positive,” the mayor said, “and then we’ll look to fund it some more. The city will partner up with IHS and with the visitors industry in Waikiki to see if they would be willing to contribute and keep it going for years to come.”

The Hotel Association will be hosting a fundraiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Grand Lawn on May 9 with a million dollar goal to raise the remaining funds needed to continue these services throughout 2015 and 2016.

And as part of the Waikiki initiative, IHS will also be launching a monthly outreach service center in Moiliili in April 2015 at St. Mary’s Church.

Mayor Caldwell said that, depending on the success of the Waikiki homeless outreach program, “we may be looking at Chinatown next, and maybe some form of it in Waianae.”

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