State pulls funding from large homeless outreach provider

State pulls funding from one of Oahu's largest homeless outreach providers

Six months ago, Gov. David Ige recognized Waikiki Health's Care-A-Van outreach for its efforts to help the homeless.

This week, the state revealed it wouldn't be renewing the agency's contract.

The current contract ends Feb. 1, and the program offers a host of services, including outreach, housing assistance, and helping people get needed identification.

When the contract runs out, outreach workers will no longer be able to help people who need to apply for benefits, like food stamps. Many clients also have their mail sent to the outreach provider.

"Mail is like the life blood for a lot of people because you can't get benefits otherwise," said state Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee.

Close to 900 clients get their mail through Care-A-Van. Only the people who are patients at Waikiki Health will be able to continue to use the address.

Green questioned why the provider's contract is being cut.

"I don't want to criticize the governor's team I just think we need to expand some of the essential resources and Care-A-Van is one of them. Once you lose a program, you don't fund it. It takes many months or years to restart the same service. We can't go backwards," he said.

The new contract was awarded to the Institute for Human Services; the state's largest homeless service provider says it will continue some of Care-A-Van's same programs. However, clients will need to make the switch.

"The plan is to continue the work that we've been doing in Waikiki and now across East Honolulu to provide housing focused homeless outreach," said Kimo Carvalho, IHS spokesman.

Although the state wouldn't go into detail about its decision to change vendors. the state Department of Human Services said in a statement that, "The Department will work with current and new providers to ensure a warm hand-off of clients and minimize disruption in services."

Meanwhile, Care-A-Van's drop-in clinic and mobile clinic will continue to operate.

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