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A mobile crisis outreach van could be a game changer to get homeless youth off the street

Published: Nov. 14, 2021 at 6:06 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2021 at 9:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new tool from Residential Youth Services and Empowerment (R.Y.S.E.) is more than a van stocked with supplies. For many houseless youth, it’s a lifeline.

The mobile crisis outreach van is filled with things like toiletries, medicine and other necessities to the young people experiencing homelessness in our community.

But perhaps what is more important than that are the services and resources they are able to connect those young people with.

For the people who do this work, it’s a purpose.

“I have four outreach workers under me,” said Lee Miyashiro, R.Y.S.E street outreach lead. “We all try to fill up the shelter and try to get kids housed.”

Miyashiro takes the Mobile Crisis Outreach (MCO) van all over the island.

A lot of his time is spent on the leeward side where a large population of young native Hawaiians are homeless.

For Lee, this is much more than a job.

“When I was their age, I was out in Waikiki, I was homeless for six years and you know back then there were people that helped me out when I needed help and I just want to pay that forward,” said Miyashiro.

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.

All this is possible thanks to non-profits like Hale Kipa, Waikiki Health Youth Outreach, and ALEA Bridge/Achieve Zero as well as Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center.

Meeting people where they are to get them the help they need.

“Often times, people who are unsheltered don’t have IDs, they don’t have insurance they don’t have access to healthcare,” said Madison Moliga of Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center. “So, for us coming together and bringing our services out to the streets it really removes that part of having to have an id or even insurance.”

“Many of our neighbors struggle with transportation needs or even reluctance getting into a traditional medical setting and so mobile units like this have become increasingly important to those neighborhoods,” said CEO of AlohaCare, Francoise Culley-Trotman.

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