Search afoot for last-minute fix to state rules poised to slash number of homeless beds

Search afoot for last-minute fix to state rules poised to slash number of homeless beds

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New state rules are threatening to cut beds at homeless shelters across Hawaii, and at least one shelter faces closure.

The regulations are aimed at giving clients better amenities and more privacy, but the state didn't provide money for construction to meet the new rules.

Now, there's a last-minute push afoot -- spearheaded by Mililani Mauka Neighborhood Board member Steven Malendrez -- that's aimed at postponing implementation of the rules. A meeting at the state Capitol building scheduled for Thursday is aimed at persuading the state to give shelters more time.

Malendrez has invited lawmakers and members of the state Department of Health Services to attend.

He said the shelter contracts should be amended to give them time to meet the requirements of the new rules. He said the state Legislature should also discuss funding the needed changes in its upcoming session.

The way it stands now many service providers will have to cut beds at the end of the month.

At Waikiki Health's Next Step Shelter, sources say, capacity will drop from 230 to 125.  And the facility will no longer be able to help families.

The Institute for Human Services family shelter will also take a hit. With the new contract,they'll lose space for up to 36 people.

And the 80-bed Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu is facing closure because it can't afford needed upgrades to meet the new rules.

"We would like to be able to provide quality service," said Lighthouse shelter Director Bill Hummel. "Our residents would like us to be able to provide qualtiy service our community would like us to continue to provide it. We're the only shelter from Honolulu to Barber's Point on the Leeward side."

A spokesperson for the Governor's Office said it would not provide any detailed comments on homeless services contracts while the procurement process is ongoing. The governor and his coordinator on homelessness will make announcement Thursday afternoon on new shelter contract awards.

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