IHS says fewer homeless on Waikiki main drag

IHS says fewer homeless on Waikiki main drag

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three times a week. Justin, Robert and Reyna walk the main drag of Waikiki passing out fliers.

"Can I give you one of these," said senior outreach specialist Justin Phillips.

The outreach specialists work on behalf of the Institute for Human Services.  It's their job to connect with homeless in Waikiki.  Friday they offered shuttle rides to hot showers, clothes and a meal.

"We've seen folks get on our shuttle, come to the shelter one time.  They stayed, they got a job and now they're in housing," said Phillips.

Phillips says he sees far fewer homeless than he used to in this area.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority agrees.  In a statement an agency spokesperson wrote:

"Since the sit-lie ban has taken effect in Waikiki, there have been noticeable improvements in Waikiki. The ban has helped to improve the visual impact and visitor experiences along Kalakaua Avenue. "

Many of the people left are chronically homeless. Phillips says they fall into a few different categories. Some are older and can't afford housing, a handful of severely mentally ill.  But a good number of the folks they deal with are alcoholics.

"People are choosing to be homeless.  They're choosing not to accept services and alcohol is a big barrier there," said Phillips.

When it comes to solving the problem Phillips says it's really about team work.

"I think all these groups working together and the open line of communication that's happening right now is the key to change down here," said Phillips.

Tim Hickey has been homeless on and off for 15-years.  Friday was his first time getting on the shuttle.

" I'm doing it because I ran into what's his name and I thought, I need a shower," said Hickey.

A total 12 people got on the IHS shuttle Friday morning.

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