Local Connection: Waikiki Homelessness - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Waikiki Homelessness

By: Rick Blangiardi

The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association is to be commended for taking on homelessness in Waikiki.

It's the number one concern among tourists who just happen to contribute to our number one industry. Even hotel workers say their top fear is being approached by the homeless in Waikiki.

The association is donating $100,000 a year this year and next to allow the Institute for Human Services to operate a full-time outreach program in Waikiki.

Some $500,000 is needed for outreach, case management, psychiatric and other services. some money will be used to fly the homeless back to their families on the mainland.

The idea is to work with the city's housing first program and to get the homeless into shelters and housing. the best part is that IHS will be proactive in being out on the streets of Waikiki each day and finding out who needs help.

The target in the first year is to serve about 300 of the homeless in Waikiki, which is about half of the estimated population. some 140 should be moved into housing and 120 would be reunited with their families on the mainland.

Better yet, the program is being done with a lot of community partners and compassion.

It's a great first start to move the homeless out of our top tourist location and to make sure that our homeless population is not the first thing our vacationers talk about when they return home.

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