HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Homeless outreach coordinators are hoping new pouches will help eliminate the costly and time-consuming practice of replacing missing ID's and other important personal documents needed to help get the unsheltered off the streets.
There are a lot of reasons homeless don't have ID's or other important documents -- some are lost or stolen, others are seized when crews enforce city ordinances. However they go missing, officials estimate it takes about six months to replace them at a cost of around $210 a person.
"A lot of staff time is spent helping clients retrieve these documents that are lost. It happens over and over again -- a client comes in and lets us know, 'Hey, my things were taken during a city clean-up and I no longer have my birth certificate' and we might have just helped them get their birth certificate about a month ago. So now we have to start that process again," explained Michelle Ip, the outreach manager for Waikiki Health Care-A-Van.
Hawaiian Electric has donated 2,000 document pouches to the city to be distributed to homeless encampments across the island.
"I think it'll be a huge help for people to keep their documents safe and dry. When it rains, things get wet. They get ruined," explained Leslie Uyehara, Director of the Healthcare for Homeless Project at Kalihi-Palama Health Center.
Jordan Porter has been living on a sidewalk in Kakaako for the past 18 months. He was one of several hundred who received a document pouch during a distribution Wednesday morning.
"They look very very helpful. I can put my ID, social security, birth certificate -- like all the important documents I need and they say that they can't take them in a sweep too, which is -- that's great," said Porter.
"The city has asked HPD, when they see these pouches to not throw them away during the disruptions but gather them up and give them back to the provider agencies so that we can work together with our clients to be able to save those documents," said Uyehara.
The idea is to eliminate re-issuing documents that are needed to get homeless health care services, shelter entry and ultimately -- permanent housing.
Porter says it's a huge setback when documents are lost or taken.
"Oh it's terrible. You go through weeks -- months of steps of just trying to get stuff back," Porter described.
Waikiki Health's address is printed on each pouch, so if they are found officials are hoping they'll be returned or mailed back.
"With the documents that are inside the pouch, we'll be able to run their name and their information through our database and we'll be able to look for them that way," said Ip, explaining how the documents will then be matched to whomever they belong to.
Waikiki Health Care-A-Van is overseeing the program in collaboration with Waianae Coast Comprehensive Healthcare Center; Kalihi Palama Community Heathcare Center; the Honolulu Police Department; Waikiki Business Improvement District - Aloha Ambassadors Division; the Institute of Human Services; Mental Health Kokua; Catholic Charities Hawaii; US Vets and Waikiki Health's Youth Outreach.