How accurate is Hawaii's annual homeless count?

How accurate is Hawaii's annual homeless count?

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This week Jason Espero with Waikiki Health's Care-a-Van is sending outreach workers out day and night to count the homeless. But homeless people have their own schedules.

"So during the time that we're doing our survey, they are out and about doing their own things, so they're not available for the survey. So we miss those people," he said.

The Point-in-Time survey asks where a person slept on January 25. It doesn't ask where they slept the other nights during the past year.

"So even though they might stay out every single night but that one night, they might not be counted because they might have stayed in the hospital or at a friends place," Care-a-Van outreach manager Michelle Ip said.

Another challenge is finding the homeless. Agencies said Oahu's compassionate disruptions and a new Sit-Lie law have moved homeless from areas where they used to congregate.

"We knew for a fact that there were people there. We provided services to them in the past. But when we went there it was completely deserted," Espero said.

"I do think we get an under–reported number," said Justin Phillips, outreach manager with the Institute for Human Services.

He said under–reporting affects federal dollars agencies get to help the homeless.

"It is super important that everybody gets counted. Hawaii has never had more housing subsidies at any other time than this year," Phillips said.

The survey asks 14 questions. Some are general, some are personal. Some homeless people get paranoid and refuse to answer out of fear.

"Who knows what's in their mind. It could be taking money from their bank account, or just tracking them and possibly taking them into some type of institution," Espero said.

If they refuse to participate they are not counted in the homeless count. This years Point-in-Time numbers will be released in a few months.

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