Rain pushes more homeless to seek shelter

Rain pushes more homeless to seek shelter

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This weekend's wet weather may have accomplished something that officials have wanted for some time -- getting more homeless off the streets and into shelters.

The Institute for Human Services doesn't have exact figures, but it has seen an above-average number of men and women coming in seeking shelter over the past few days because of the rainy conditions.

"I was just soaking wet a couple of days ago and I had a big umbrella over me, and it was very helpful to have that, but other than that, it's really bad," said Taures Burkes. She and her husband are among those now at the IHS shelter on Sumner Street in Iwilei.

Another place helping the homeless is St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church in Kalihi-Palama, which has a converted shipping container to provide shelter. But it can only house a few. Others are improvising.

"We have a carport, we have a container and we've got eaves around the church hall, and yes, more and more folks are looking to stay dry there," said Father David Gierlach, the church rector.

In Kakaako, only a few tents remain in the rain. The homeless encampment there and along the Kapalama Canal have been cleared out. And Gierlach said the numbers coming to his church have gone up as a result.

"Well, the sweeps continue to have an impact on folks moving up into the Kalihi-Palama area, and we continue to see more and more folks, and with this kind of weather, yes, we have," he said.

IHS said it is able to handle the increased number of people with no problem. Some of those in the shelter are already paying a monthly fee.

"They either check in if they're volunteering (to work) to pay their rent, or they can afford the 90 or 100 dollars," said Burkes.

Even with the increased numbers heading to shelters, there are still those who'll spend a wet night on the street.

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