Helping the Homeless

Darlene Hein
Darlene Hein
Paul Oshiro
Paul Oshiro

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KAIMUKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - At a converted house on Waialae Avenue, the homeless converge. People like Bob Tucker - matter-of-fact about what he needs.

"A job. Teeth. And some glasses," he said.

The Waikiki Health Center Care-A-Van drop-in site and clinic draws more homeless since the state stepped up efforts to get them off the street.

"We do see a lot of fresh faces. We do see a lot of old faces that pop up from a long time ago," said worker Vanessa Vallejos.

The numbers range from 50 to 60 people a day. Singles, couples, old and young.

The metal file cabinets behind the counter are stuffed with manila folders that are mail boxes for old clients and a growing list of new ones.

"They can get food. They can get water. They can use the bathroom. They can get hygiene supplies," program director Darlene Hein said.

They can also get connected to shelters and services, make a phone call, and receive a medical checkup.

"We have medical, mental health, substance abuse and social services," Hein said.

The center opens six days a week. It's busy already but Care-A-Van's going after more homeless.

Outreach workers comb the streets daily, passing out invitations and urging the homeless to seek them out.

"A lot of our clients here or individuals who are homeless are looking for help. They just don't know where to turn to," Care-A-Van supervisor Paul Oshiro said.

"I don't use homeless services. But I couldn't help it this time," Tucker said.

It costs Care-A-Van $85,000 a month to do what it does. Money comes from federal and state funds, donations and earnings. And the center needs help.

"We can use clothes. We can use food. We can use hygiene items," Hein said.

The center has assisted Oahu's homeless since 1987. This is the busiest it has ever been.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved