By Ryan Lothspeich
HNN Fall intern
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — The city is kicking off a $2.2 million "housing first" program aimed at moving as many as 150 chronically homeless people off the streets.
At a news conference Friday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the funds -- part of a multi-phase effort -- is part of the city's push to address the homeless crisis.
"We're on that march to addressing a problem that has grown over decades to the state is it today, and it's not gonna be solved overnight," Caldwell said. "We'll be changing lives of hundreds and hundreds of people in a positive way. And I believe if we stay this course will see a dramatic difference in our homeless situation on this island and throughout the state."
The city launched its first phase of the housing first program in 2014, and together with the state has so far placed 314 chronically homeless people in permanent housing.
Under the housing first program, homeless people are placed in permanent housing and offered additional supports to remain off the streets. The program targets chronically homeless people, or those who have been on the streets for several years.
As part of the new program, U.S. VETS is partnering with Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Helping Hands Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii to move people into permanent housing.
"It's important to point out the homeless problem is a community problem that has community solutions" said Darryl Vincent, chief operating officer of U.S. VETS. "This is a unique opportunity for us to partner with the city and county the state, homeless service providers, our landlords and most importantly the clients themselves."
Thirteen clients currently at the city's Hale Mauliola Housing Navigation Center have been placed into housing units and will be served by U.S.VETS under its housing first partnership with the city starting next week. An additional eleven Hale Mauliola clients are ready to move into housing first units with U.S.VETS.
"Hale Mauliola becomes a safe place to stabilize clients and begin the housing navigation process where IHS matches the right client with the right type of housing support services," said Kimo Carvalho, community relations director for the Institute for Human Services, which operates Hale Mauliola.
As part of the next phase of the city's housing first program, by 2017 an additional 100 units will be made available to home individuals.