Volunteers gather for point-in-time count to get better sense of Hawaii’s homeless population

Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 7:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Homelessness is one of the biggest problems facing our state, but just how bad is it? Officials and volunteers are trying to find out through the annual point-in-time count.

The point-in-time is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January that helps to determine the funding and resources that are committed to combating homelessness in our community.

“We want to get a sense of the needs of our population and hopefully put the support we’re able to gather in place so we can offer them the services they feel they need to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Steve Kahanaoi, who’s been a point-in-time count volunteer for the last 10 years.

The annual nationwide homeless census is conducted for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Officials say an accurate point-in-time count is imperative to ensuring there are enough services in the right neighborhoods to assist Hawaii’s homeless population.

That accuracy depends on the number of volunteers who are able to assist with the data collection.

On Oahu, volunteers counted 4,453 homeless people in 2019. That was down from 4,495 homeless individuals in 2018.

Statewide, the number of homeless individuals also went down 1% ― from 6,530 people in 2018 to 6,448 people in 2019.

But the number of unsheltered homeless on Oahu jumped 12% last year.

The census counted 2,401 people living on the streets, parks or in cars.

The number of sheltered individuals, meanwhile, went down 13%.

Since 2015, the number of homeless families declined 42% and veteran homelessness went down 18%.

Despite three consecutive decreases, Hawaii currently has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country.

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