After a decade on the streets, this Maui vet finally has a place to call home

He finally has a place to call his own, thanks to a friend who didn't give up on him.
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 7:22 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 16, 2023 at 11:03 AM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After living on the streets for more than a decade, a Maui veteran finally has a place to call his own.

But he did not do it alone.

His friend hopes the story can shed some light on how challenging it actually is getting homeless individuals into homes.

Air Force Veteran Lawrence “Larry” Delizo, 65, spent more than a decade living on the streets of Maui.

Friday marks two weeks since he moved into his own home in Kahului.

“It’s a transition for sure,” Delizo said. “Because being homeless for so long, you’re not used to having the walls around you.”

Delizo has a blackbelt in taekwondo, a nursing degree and was once a homeowner — But he says depression took over his life.

“I just gave up everything. I gave up my lifestyle. I gave up my marriage, and I started drinking,” said Delizo.

He found himself homeless at Amala Place. That is where he met advocate Keisa Lu.

“It didn’t fit the profile of what people were telling me what houselessness looks like when I saw Larry,” Lusaid. “It just seems so simple. Like, you look like you have everything, you could do this … what’s going on?”

“And I realized support was missing.”

So Lu made it her mission to help Larry find a home. But she lost track of him after a county homeless sweep in 2021.

“Not only is it traumatic for the people. I mean, you can look up as many studies as you want, of how that’s actually really harmful. But it creates more work for our social services that are already strained,” said Lu.

Lu made it her mission to find Larry and help him with paperwork again.

A couple of months later, he was forced to move from his encampment a second time.

So, Lu took him into her home.

“I’m getting emotional about this too... because for her to take me off the street like that into her home, you know, just the trust and things like that,” Delizo said, as he fought back tears.

Now, after a year and seven months, Delizo has a place he can call his own.

Lu says there needs to be a better way to help the homeless.

“The path to being houseless is so challenging and traumatic in itself, that it doesn’t seem worth the risk anymore, and maybe we change that process to make it easier,” she said.

Delizo now hopes to reconnect with his children and put his culinary skills to use.