Honolulu on track to end veteran homelessness by year's end

Honolulu on track to end veteran homelessness by year's end

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After nearly 2 decades of bouncing between his friends couches and living on the street, Navy veteran Robert Henry has a home.

"I just recently this last Friday got my own place to live at under the HUD/VASH program," said Henry.

The Kailua High School grad said his problems began when he moved to the mainland to take care of his mother.  He says he struggled with alcoholism. After his mother died, Henry moved back to Hawaii but never could get reestablished becoming one of an estimated 700 homeless vets on Oahu.

Since the start of the year, that number's dropped dramatically.

"We know that we have close to 105 unsheltered veteran homeless right now that we have on a list that we really want to get into housing right away," said Mayor's Office of Housing Executive Director Jun Yang.

In February, Mayor Kirk Caldwell partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a national challenge to end veteran homelessness.  The feds provided the city with close to $1 million in housing vouchers for taking part in the program.

"The biggest challenge right now to date is really finding housing units," said Yang.

The organization U.S. Vets helped Henry get into a permanent home.  He said at times it was trying.

"I have one thing in my favor, that I'm patient," said Henry.

In an effort to speed up the process, the city recently created the program called "Heroes Housing Heroes."  Yang is looking for property owners who have studio or one bedroom apartments to lease.  In all, the city needs a total of about 150 units to meet the goal by years end.

"The community really has to embrace this effort.  If we do it together for veterans we can do it together for our chronically homeless, we can do it for the families we may be able to figure out an end to all of this," said Yang.

If you have a property you would like to lease, contact the Mayor's Housing Office.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.