Governor issues emergency proclamation to address homeless crisis

Governor issues emergency proclamation to address homeless crisis
Tents line the streets in Kakaako. File Image
Tents line the streets in Kakaako. File Image

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige on Friday announced that he is issuing an emergency proclamation aimed at bolstering homeless outreach and quickly standing up another emergency shelter in the urban core.

"It is still a state of emergency when you consider there are thousands of people in our community who continue to be homeless," Ige said, at a news conference.

Ige said the proclamation will be used to extend existing homeless outreach contracts through July 2016 and provide further resources to help find and build a shelter for families in the urban core.

He said the new shelter is needed because of a "deficit of shelter space for homeless families."

The proclamation comes on the heels of the city's efforts to clear a large homeless encampment in Kakaako. More than 200 individuals and families who had been living on the streets in the area were moved as part of a month-long project that wrapped up this week. Some went into shelters, ohers moved elsewhere on the streets.

Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless czar, said the state has identified $1.3 million to extend homeless outreach contracts through July 2016.

A portion of the money will go to Housing First programs, designed to move people into housing quickly and then tackle other issues.

The funds will also go to families on the brink of homelessness, to keep them in their homes, and to help families who become homeless to get back into housing quickly.

Ige said the homeless outreach efforts will be "data-informed," and geared toward getting people off the streets quickly.

The decision to issue an emergency proclamation came out of a meeting with the governor's leadership team on homelessness, which works in collaboration with federal and county partners to establish "best practices" for assisting the variety of needs and the complexity of housing the state's homeless population.

In 2006, Gov. Linda Lingle also used emergency proclamations to help deal with Hawaii's homeless crisis. The proclamations allowed the state to quickly open the state's Next Step shelter in Kakaako, housed in a warehouse near Kakaako Waterfront Park, and to expand homeless service along the Waianae Coast.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.