More homeless in Hawaii, though increase lower than previous years

More people in Hawaii are living on the streets.

New numbers from the 2016 Statewide Point in Time Count reveal every county saw an increase in the homeless population.

The findings revealed a 4% overall increase in the numbers of homeless individuals from 2015 (7,620 persons) to 2016 (7,921 persons). This is the fifth annual increase since 2011, though it is significantly lower than in past years (10% 2014-2015, 9% 2013-2014).

There was a 3% decrease in the total number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless veterans statewide compared to 2015, with a 12% decrease on Oahu.

Statewide statistics and trends

Island Total 2015 Count 2016 Sheltered 2016 Unsheltered Total 2016 Count 2016 % increase # of persons
Oahu 4,903 2,767 2,173 4,940 1% 37
Hawaii 1,241 271 1,123 1,394 12% 153
Maui 1,137 484 661 1,145 1% 8
Kauai 339 91 351 442 30% 103
Statewide 7,620 3,613 4,308 7,921 4% 301

The Point In Time Count represents the best available data to estimate one-day homeless prevalence for the State of Hawaii.

It was collected in January and released by Hawaii’s two Continua of Care, Partners In Care (PIC) and Bridging the Gap (BTG).

The primary objective of the count is to obtain a reliable estimate of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families at a specific point in time by asking those encountered, “Where did you sleep on the night of January 24, 2016?” The data is then mined and analyzed for trends and patterns. Information gathered, along with other available data, is used to help inform policy, strategy, and allocation of resources.

The counties break down as follows:

Hawaii

The total count increased by 12%. The sheltered total count increased by 23% compared to 2015, while the unsheltered increased by 10%. In 2016, three main factors contributed to this increase including: 1) There was unprecedented collaboration among those conducting the count which included service providers and non-service providers, volunteers and the County government that improved the Hawaii County PIT count process; 2) Continued growth of substandard housing (ie. living on family property in tents and makeshift structures with no running water and/or utility access) throughout the County and especially in the Hilo, Pahoa, Konawaena and Kealakehe regions; and 3) The inventory of transitional housing increased by 13 additional units with a maximum bed space of six (6) beds per unit.

Maui

The total count registered a small nearly one percent increase since 2015. Maui County showed a 10% decrease in shelter count, and a 4% increase in unsheltered count. Efforts to transition individuals to permanent housing from shelters have increased.

Kauai

The total count increased 30% since 2015. In 2016, there was unprecedented collaboration among those conducting the count which included service providers and non-service providers, volunteers and the County government that improved the Kauai PIT count process. The increase in the numbers of individuals counted on Kauai is due in large part to this increase in effort rather than an actual growth in the numbers.

Oahu

The total count registered a small nearly one percent increase. Unsheltered homelessness rose by 12% in Oahu. An exploratory analysis was performed comparing persons found in the 2016 PIT with those identified in the previous 2015 count. This subgroup is referred to as “Repeaters.” A total of 425 persons (22%) that were encountered during the 2016 count were also canvassed during the 2015 count. Significant variation in the percentage of repeaters was observed among the different areas. The analysis showed that areas 1 and 2, consisting of the urban Honolulu and Waikiki areas respectively, had the lowest rate of repeaters (14% each) while the Waianae Coast (Area 7) produced the highest rate of repeaters (38%).

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released the following statement in response:

“While even a one percent increase in overall homelessness on O‘ahu is frustrating, the current Point in Time Count shows less of an increase than previous years. This is a direct result of the city’s expansion of the Housing First program, the innovative Hale Mauliola Housing Navigation Center at Sand Island, our efforts with homeless veterans, and our property acquisitions. Working with the City Council, we are investing in properties from Makiki to Wai‘anae, and just purchased a four-story warehouse in Iwilei for a new drop-in hygiene center and units for the chronically homeless. Meanwhile, our relentless enforcement efforts to keep sidewalks, parks, and other public areas free of encampments and stored property has improved the effectiveness of outreach efforts for homeless service providers.”

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