Governor pledges to end homelessness in Hawaii by 2020

Governor pledges to end homelessness in Hawaii by 2020
Published: Jul. 21, 2016 at 9:21 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2016 at 10:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige pledged Thursday to end homelessness in Hawaii by 2020, as part of an ambitious plan that includes building 10,000 affordable housing units and bolstering programs that help people get into housing more quickly.

And he said he'll use $12 million appropriated by the state Legislature to jumpstart the ambitious plan.

"As I've said from the very beginning, there is no quick fix to homelessness," Ige said.

Over the next four years, the governor wants to eliminate homeless encampments on state land, move everyone on the street into housing, and build 10,000 affordable units.

The governor's goal is to bring homelessness to "functional zero." In other words, while people might still fall into homelessness, they would be moved into housing within a couple months' time.

"The common goal is to get people into housing as quickly as possible," said Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless coordinator. "And not only get them into housing but provide them with the right level of support so they can maintain that housing."

To do that, $2 million will be distributed among service providers for homeless outreach, $1.4 million will go to a Family Assessment Center under construction in Kakaako, and another $6 million will be used for housing programs. Meanwhile, $675,000 was set aside to upgrade the state's homeless data system and for repairs of state owned shelters.

"We know that for individuals who have income and just need a little bit of an extra boost to transition from homelessness into homes, the rapid rehousing program works," Morishige said.

Money was also set aside for state agencies so they can remove encampments from their land.

"That includes almost $1.5 million for our state property owners," Morishige said. State departments will "be able to provide storage as well as clean up efforts to be able to address some of these encampments."

The governor says he knows it won't be easy to end homelessness, but is committed to his plan.

"There is no shortcut," he said. "It really is about being focused, consistent and driving to make a difference each and every day."

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