State Spends Big To Aid Homeless

Homeless shelter recently opened by the state at Kakaako.
Homeless shelter recently opened by the state at Kakaako.

(KHNL) - Hawaii's homeless are receiving a helping hand.

Governor Linda Lingle signed three bills, which puts more money on the front lines of the battle against homelessness.

More than $40 million will go towards helping the homeless, representing a 400% increase in such funding.

"There are homeless everywhere here on Oahu. There's nowhere you can drive, hardly any neighborhood where you're not going to see homeless people," said Lingle.

A large part of the money, $31 million, will go towards building more affordable housing.

"We have got to produce results. We can't spend all this money and people see the same situation exist a year or two or three years from now," said Gov. Lingle.

The bills will also give grants to some service providers. It will give Utu Langi's group, H-5, the funds needed to turn old tour buses into mobile shelters.

"I feel so blessed to receive the funding from the state and be able to do a little bit more," said Langi.

The neighbor islands are also receiving help. Each county will get $400,000 for temporary emergency shelters for the homeless.

The Governor is also allowing the state to lease public lands to non-profit groups for as little as $1 a year.

In exchange, the land must be used to build affordable housing.

Gov. Lingle knows the bills won't end homelessness, but she's hoping it will give residents the help they need.