Shelters shift strategy to house homeless more quickly

Shelters shift strategy to house homeless more quickly
Published: Aug. 11, 2016 at 9:23 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 11, 2016 at 9:42 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waikiki Health's Next Step Shelter has overhauled staff responsibilities and beefed up training as part of an effort to move shelter clients into permanent housing more quickly.

Jason Espero, director of Next Step's Homeless Services, said his shelter workers who used to primarily tackle security issues are now all trained to be housing navigators.

With nine people doing the job, individual housing case loads dropped from 70 to 17.

Espero says the work is all part of an effort to move to a federally-recommended model known as "bridge housing."  The goal is to get people into permanent housing as quickly as possible and provide support services in that new home.

The city's Hale Mauliola shelter and Kakaako's Family Assessment Center, slated to open in September, use the same concept.

"We are seeing some of these changes so we can maximize the federal dollars coming into our community," said Jen Stasch, director of Partners in Care.

On top of being eligible for more funding, Stasch says this program has worked in cities across the country.

"We are seeing that 85 percent of those that are placed into permanent housing using the housing first approach remain housed after five years," he said.

Close to 200 clients were living at Next Step as of Thursday. Many are ready to meet with their housing navigator.

"They got more time to help them with looking for housing and finding housing," Espero said. "They got time to perhaps work on the issues or those problems that caused that individual to become homeless."

Espero says he hopes to have up to 20 people housed in the next 90 days.

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