HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dialing 791-9359 connects you to the Waikiki Health Center's intake office on Waialae Avenue. The number is now Oahu's homeless hotline.
Callers share when and were they see a homeless person and describe them. The center will send an outreach worker and then an agency that can meet the homeless person's needs.
"We can look and see if other people need to be involved. Is it a crisis situation? Is this a person who has severe mental illness, who has physical problems?" said Darlene Heim, director of the center's community services section.
Governor Neil Abercrombie said the new system gives citizens an avenue to get involved. He promises immediate action.
"When I say immediate action, it is not just taking someone off the street. It's giving someone the opportunity to get started in the right direction," he said.
People can also send email reports to the center. There are phone numbers and e-mail addresses for Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.
Homelessness coordinator Marc Alexander calls the hotline and email system a first step to solving the homeless situation.
"One of the frustrations and one of the challenges has been how do we find out who are the people who are homeless? Who are the people who might need help? And how can we enlist the support of the public?" he said.
Chinatown shop owner Paul Min sees homeless sleeping in doorways. He likes the state's idea but wonders about results.
"It's a great step toward the right direction. But my main concern is after the phone call, what's going to happen to the people?" he said.
Even Heim admits the hotline is no guarantee the homeless will accept help and move into a shelter.
"It's not illegal to be homeless," she said. "We don't have the authority to pick somebody up and take them."
Dean Huddy and his wife Malia live in a van in Ewa Beach. He calls the hotline a start.
"Everybody is a human being," he said.
Whether it makes a difference will be evident on the street where homelessness lives.
The hotlines and email addresses are:
* Waikiki Health Center's Care-A-Van Program on Oahu: 791-9359; firstname.lastname@example.org.
*HOPE Services on the Big Island: 935-3050; email@example.com.
*Family Life Center on Maui: 877-0880; firstname.lastname@example.org
*Kauai Economic Opportunity: 245-4077, ext.228; email@example.com.