County, State, Faith-Based Groups and Community Join Hands to Help Homeless
The County of Hawai’i is joining hands with the State of Hawai’i, the faith-based community, non-profits, businesses and other concerned citizens to address the island’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Harry Kim said. The County is working collaboratively on a comprehensive program with the ultimate goal of transitioning homeless people of our island from temporary shelters to affordable housing and jobs.
“These are our people,” Mayor Kim said in a statement. “We cannot in good conscience let homelessness for families and individuals spiral upward; we must do something definitive to address it. I truly feel a growing support from the community.”
His remarks followed the 2nd Annual West Hawai’i Faith-Based Summit to End Family Homelessness in Kona on September 27. The event was a day-long gathering involving more than 20 West Hawai’i church congregations, numerous social service agencies, healthcare professionals, businesses, as well as State and County officials.
“The faith-based community is really pitching in, offering to adopt homeless families and providing all kinds of material and spiritual support; we cannot thank these good people enough,” he said. “Their spirit is spreading far and wide in the community.”
Mayor Kim expressed deep gratitude for the commitment of assistance from the State of Hawai’i’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, who attended the summit and stressed the need to maximize space and accelerate placement into shelters or transitional housing.
Governor David Ige conveyed a special message of support for the event, stressing the need for collaboration to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness.
“We appreciate so much the support that the State is giving us; they know this is crucial and that we need everybody’s help,” Mayor Kim said.
According to Lance Niimi, the County’s Homeless Coordinator there are approximately 913 homeless people islandwide, with about 379 individuals in families living without a home. Niimi helped spearhead Camp Kikaha, a temporary Safe Zone encampment in Kona which houses about 30 people since its opening in May.