Homelessness in Hawaii grows, defying image of paradise - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Homelessness in Hawaii grows, defying image of paradise

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By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Homelessness in Hawaii has grown in recent years, leaving the state with 487 homeless per 100,000 people, the nation's highest rate per capita, above New York and Nevada, according to federal statistics.

Since 2010, the rise has come even as the national rate has fallen.

The increase, driven by years of rising costs in the island chain, low wages and limited land, thrust the image of people sleeping on beaches alongside the state's famed one of a relaxing tropical paradise.

Officials have tried to solve the problem. They've offered homeless services and banned sitting and lying on Waikiki's sidewalks.

The state coordinator on homelessness says the population of unsheltered families ballooned 46 percent from 2014 to 2015. Scott Morishige says changes in public housing policy and mental health services contributed to the rise.

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