New state homeless coordinator shares his vision

Marc Alexander
Marc Alexander
Connie Mitchell
Connie Mitchell
Utu Langi
Utu Langi

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On any given day, 6,000 people are homeless in Hawaii. By all counts, it's staggering.

But Marc Alexander, an ex Roman Catholic priest and former vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hawaii believes he can help end homelessness.

"Sometimes we feel this problem is so overwhelming and so complicated, because it is that we can't achieve that goal. I believe we can," he said.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has appointed Alexander as the state's homeless coordinator.

His first goal is to convince skeptics.

"I'm going to have to build some personal relationships so that people know that I care deeply about this issue. Maybe on some other issues we haven't been on the same page. But on this one we are," Alexander said.

Those who work with the homeless want to meet with Alexander to share what they say works and what doesn't.

"To just sort out the duplication of services and to look at different ways our state government might have some rules that conflict with each other, in terms of how to help some of the people that we're serving," Institute for Human Services executive director Connie Mitchell said.

"We have the shelters around. But most of them, including the two that I manage, are maxed out. So there is no place for these folks to go," said Utu Langi, who runs Next Step shelter in Kakaako.

Alexander said affordable housing factors into any plan to help the homeless and it will take money.

But he said money, or the lack of it, is secondary to vision.

"It's getting a clear idea of where we are so we have a base line. It's getting an idea of where we want to go and how we're going to get there, and what are the measurements that are showing that we're moving in the right direction," he said.

Alexander served in the priesthood for 25 years. He has a wealth of administrative experience to rely on and a hunger to help.

"Anyone who is homeless is a human being who deserves dignity and respect," he said.

Please watch the video on this web page for more details on the story.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.