WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The statewide 'Point in Time' count is underway and volunteers are canvassing neighborhoods tallying up homeless individuals. Organizer say this effort helps provide a more accurate picture of the homeless problem in Hawaii so that our state receives the appropriate federal funding.
Last year, Oahu's count was about 5,000 and the entire state had nearly 8,000 counted - up 4-percent from the previous year.
More than 450 people on Oahu have signed up to help and about 100 were out in Waikiki on Monday. Groups are out counting people from 10th Avenue to Piikoi Street and from Manoa down to the ocean.
"We work together in a group. We go around and we use flashlights. We don't walk away by ourselves and get stranded," said Justin Phillips, Outreach Field Manager for the Institute of Human Services.
Volunteers say the majority of individuals have been very receptive and willing to help.
"By the time we approach them, they're already expecting it. Most people are just happy to have somebody to chat with and have been super friendly. They're happy to share about their lives and to talk with us," said volunteer Natalie Nimmer.
The Waikiki groups counted close to 50 people around Kapiolani Park and along Kalakaua Avenue. The homeless individuals who participate in the count are given a $5 gift card for food and a protective holder to keep their belongings safe.
Teams will be out counting every night until Friday.