New homeless outreach effort zeroes in on Waianae Coast

Updated: May. 19, 2020 at 4:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Tuesday morning, a team from Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center was packed up and ready to go. They had a lot of ground to cover.

The health center is central to a new partnership, facilitated by the state, that’s aimed at getting basic necessities into communities with the most need — like the groups of encampments along the Waianae Coast.

“Our routes consist of going from Makua all the way to Kalaeloa even in the valleys,” said center community health services director Leina Alakanana.

On Tuesday, the center staff joined up with the Salvation Army.

HNN followed a three-woman team into an area known as Keaau Beach Park undeveloped. Close to 30 people live the area including two families with children.

The majority live in tents or other make-shift shelters.

A woman named Dorinda said she’s long been on the waiting list for public housing. “Five years, five years waiting for housing,” she said.

The team walked from encampment to encampment handing out essentials.

“We were able to pack some toiletries, blankets, water, chili rice from Zippy’s,” said Salvation Army Director of Family Services Anna Stone.

A social worker also made sure everyone was aware of the coronavirus — and checked in on their health.

“One of our main things at Waianae Comp is to meet the medical needs of our homeless,” said WCCHC social worker Charlotte Naone.

“Some of the issues are diabetes and hypertension. Obviously they can’t hold their medications that need to be refrigerated so a lot of them just don’t do it.”

The team met up with Christopher Thompson not far from the water’s edge. He’s been living in a tent on the beach close to two years.

“Do you have a behavioral health provider,” Naone asked.

Thompson responded, “Yes, I have stress-related behavioral health issues.”

He told HNN it’s been years since he’s seen a psychologist.

Naone then called into the hospital and lined up a doctor’s visit, even arranging a ride. “Transportation is picking you up at the bathrooms next to the highway,” she said.

Thompson seemed grateful for the opportunity: A first step towards a more stable future.

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