Dialed in: homeless hotline leads to outreach - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Dialed in: homeless hotline leads to outreach

An outreach team member fields a call An outreach team member fields a call
Darlene Hein Darlene Hein
John Tello John Tello

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dialed into the streets. The state's new "homeless hotline" has been flooded with calls. In the 10 days since it's been up and running, dozens of people have called in to report homeless who are in need of help.

At the Waikiki Health Center's Kaimuki branch, phones have been ringing off the hook.

"The majority are calls that are concerned, people that are concerned. How can we help this person?" says Darlene Hein, Director of Community Services section at the health center.

Since the state launched the hotline on April 25th, this office has fielded more than 60 calls and 40 emails from people reporting homeless in their neighborhoods, at bus stops, and under viaducts.

We also heard from outreach workers on the Big Island and Kauai. On Hawaii island, they've received more than three dozen calls and a handful of emails to the hotline. On Kauai, they've fielded about 10 calls.

The hotline's recorded message says, "If you are calling because you are concerned about an individual or family who is homeless, please leave a brief description of the person … an outreach team will check on the person as soon as possible."

About a dozen outreach workers and health experts follow-up daily. They take down information and advise the homeless on what services are available.

John Tello lives on the streets and thinks the hotline could bring positive results. "If they've got some access to some help, yeah," he says.

Many individuals have been on the streets for awhile, but outreach workers have found a few new faces with the public's help. "Now we know where they are, and they can continue to visit and really look at how we can build that relationship and see what other services we can bring in to help them."

Advocates are most surprised that people who've recently been homeless or who are on the verge of eviction are also calling the hotline for help.


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