Hawaii holds first Faith Summit on Homelessness

Hawaii holds first Faith Summit on Homelessness (5a)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 150 faith leaders and community members are expected to attend the first Faith Summit on Homelessness, organized by The Institute for human Services in partnership with the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii, at Central Union Church on Beretania Street at 8 a.m. Monday.

The summit, which is already at capacity,  will close around 4:30 p.m. and involves workshops and a fair of homeless services as well as remarks from IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell and Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin.

In an effort to expand outreach efforts to homeless communities across the state, staff with Hawaii's largest homeless service provider will educate faith leaders on how they can partner with them to help homeless individuals who stay on their properties or come to them for help by linking them up with services.

Kimo Carvalho, the director of community relations for IHS, said it's a way to educate churches about how to engage homeless individuals and what services are available.

"We get questions from about 500 churches every year asking a variety of questions about services and how to handle a person or situation involving a homeless person on church or temple grounds," said IHS Interfaith Chaplain Terry Yasuko Ogawa, who helped organize the event.

Ogawa helps reconnect people transitioning out of homelessness with faith-based communities that can act as a social support system for their continued success, allowing them to make friends and feel a part of the community.

"Many times it's informing faith organizations that some people reaching out to them are already in the system and have an assigned case worker," Ogawa said. "Helping them coordinate that care with the case worker is important."

Among the key issues being discussed at the Faith Summit on Homelessness are how to identify mental illness, how to give responsibly by also connecting people with services and information and how to share the outreach knowledge with their congregations, Carvalho said.

IHS has done similar educational training sessions for business groups in Chinatown and security guards in Waikiki.

"We just don't have the resources to reach everyone and we need community partners who can help refer people to critical services and get people on the path out of homelessness," Carvalho said.

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