Hawaii awarded $10.7 million to fight homelessness - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii awarded $10.7 million to fight homelessness

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

On Tuesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced almost $1.6 billion in grant renewals to support over 7000 local homeless housing and service programs across the country.

38 agencies in Hawaii were awarded a total of $10.7 million.

HUD Assistant Secretary Mark Johnston is in Hawaii, and spoke to Hawaii's Interagency Council on Homelessness.

"If we have limited resources, what is the smartest way we can do, in terms of solving homelessness.  It's using the dollars in a very strategic way to reduce it" Johnston said.

Johnston noted in during the forum that leaving homelessness untreated often winds up costing the taxpayer more than funding programs to end it.  The reason being systematic; "Because people do cycle between all these institutions that were never designed to solve homelessness" he said.

"We're paying those fees so why not taking that money we're spending anyway and put it to a good use to help save lives and reduce costs?" asked Colin Kippen, Chair of the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Another topic of the forum was the national shift to ‘housing first', that is to provide the homeless with housing before entering them into treatment.

"Housing is the focus, so no matter what kind of service we're providing we're always looking at how can we get this person into housing as quickly as possible" said Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Services.

A byproduct of the gathering was for the agencies to meet, collaborate, and get on the same page.

"This coming together is about literally trying to stitch together all these different entities in a way that will enable us to make a difference" said Kippen.

"With the political will that's present right now that's coming together at every level of government, I think we can do it" added Mitchell.    

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