Nonprofit reports jump in recent HI arrivals who are homeless - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Nonprofit reports jump in recent HI arrivals who are homeless

Michael Martinka touched down in Hawaii nearly nine months ago.

"I have a brother that lives in Makiki," he said. "I kind of surprised him when I got here."

The 55-year-old spent most of his life in Oregon. After being homeless for several years he made the decision to leave the Pacific Northwest for Oahu, but not before doing a little research.

"They have better medical and better programs here to help people," he said. "I just wanted to be a part of that."

He went to Portland International Airport and bought a ticket with his Social Security money.

With no place to stay once he got here, it wasn't long before he found himself at the Institute for Human Services' men's shelter in Kalihi.

IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho said Martinka isn't the only homeless person to walk into the shelter not long after walking off a plane from the mainland.

Over the past five years, IHS has seen an average of 250 people enter the shelter not long after arriving on Oahu.

More recently, they've seen a surge of new arrivals.

From June to October, the service provider has helped just over 100 out-of-state clients. That figure suggests IHS could end the year with twice as many clients from out-of-state as they saw in 2014.

Carvalho said he's never seen a case where a city or state paid for someone's plane ticket to come to Hawaii.

But he said Martinka isn't the only homeless person who has used government benefits to buy a ticket to the islands.

Meanwhile, other islands are also seeing an increase in recent arrivals who become homeless.

"Maui last year had ... a 16% increase in (homeless) recent arrivals; we're talking about 500 people," Carvalho said.

With limited space in the shelters and a lack of affordable housing, service providers are feeling the pressure. "It definitely does drain our resources to be accommodating people from out-of-state when we're really trying to serve our local population," he said.

Carvalho added that IHS also fields phone calls and emails from people asking about homeless resources in Hawaii.

He said the staff works to educate people about the realities of being homeless in Hawaii -- and discourages people from moving here without a plan.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly