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Local nonprofits launch mobile outreach unit to help get young homeless off the street

In January of 2020,the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Hawaii had nearly 6,500 homeless individuals on any given day.
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:28 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In January of 2020,the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Hawaii had nearly 6,500 homeless individuals on any given day. The data also revealed that some roughly 300 of those were unaccompanied young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

A local nonprofit has been working to curb those numbers and bring young people the resources they need to get off the street. Residential Youth Services and Empowerment — or R.Y.S.E. — has a new tool to help with that mission.

The Mobile Crisis Outreach initiative is a physical van that offers outreach and education; medical benefits registration; agency and service referrals; harm reduction services; COVID referrals; LGBTQ+ support and shelter referrals, in addition to food, clothing and more.

“A key part of our mission is improving the health of our island community. Reaching homeless youth on Oahu to provide care and shelter via our Access to Care grants helps us reach those most in need,” said Francoise Culley-Trotman, AlohaCare’s chief executive officer. “We’re proud to support the effective and innovative collaboration between RYSE and its partners as they share a van and aloha with our most vulnerable teens and young adults.”

R.Y.S.E. didn’t launch this new program alone — the initiative is a partnership with Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, Hale Kipa, Waikiki Health/Youth Outreach!, and ALEA Bridge/Achieve Zero.

According to data from R.Y.S.E., this year, MCO teams had over 244 encounters with youth on the street and responded to more than 70 phone calls for urgent assistance.

The MCO van travels around Oahu from Waikiki to the North Shore, but places a lot of focus on the west side, where the largest population of Native Hawaiian youth experiencing homelessness are located.

November is National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month and a time when R.Y.S.E. holds an annual fundraiser, RYSE Up! 2021. The organization is hoping the community can help support operational costs for the shelters and services like the Mobile Crisis Outreach. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the fundraiser is a virtual event.

Each table sale includes a “Host Your Own” event kit with gift cards to MW Restaurant.

For more information on RYSE Up! 2021, click here or call Dana Matlin, fundraiser chair, at (808) 398-7155.

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