Homeless vets connect with help over a cup of coffee

Homeless vets connect with help over a cup of coffee

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Inside McCoy Pavilion on Friday, opportunity was disguised as a cup of coffee.

Scores of homeless veterans and their families came out for 2016 Veterans Homeless Stand Down event, getting refreshments, essentials and on-site medical services while also being connected with permanent housing programs.

"This is another way to engage people in a different atmosphere," said Jun Yang, executive director of the city Office of Housing.

Combat veteran Terrance Williams was among the attendees. He got released from jail two weeks ago.

"This is like phase one for me," Williams said. "Hopefully, within the next couple months to a year or so I'll be able to find permanent housing."

Since January 2015, 809 homeless veterans on Oahu have been housed, the city says.

There are about 100 living in shelters and another 55 still on the streets. The number of unsheltered homeless veterans has barely changed in nearly a year.

"When we hear people say they don't want shelter that's not really true," said homeless veteran Willy Holly Jr. "They're just maybe not willing to go through what it's going to take."

Holly was homeless for three decades before he finally accepted help.

"You can be offered help. But if it's not time, it's just not time," he said. "That part we really can't do much about it -- but we can keep trying."

Yang added, "What we've come to find is at a certain point people do say yes and when they do we have to be ready to help them into the system."

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