- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A Hawaii foundation began a $4 million program Wednesday to help homeless families get permanent housing.

The three-year initiative by the Hawaii Community Foundation is intended to help nonprofits adopt an approach to homelessness that emphasizes getting people into permanent homes before providing other services, The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/1sqTJP1).

The Housing First strategy is different than the typical model in which clients spend months or years in transitional housing while getting services. Housing First is built on the premise that rapid rehousing leads to better outcomes.

“We’re trying to help the providers build their capacity so that more homeless families can get into stable housing faster and keep them there,” said Tammi Chun, vice president for programs at the foundation.

The money will help nonprofit organizations offer coaching, training and collaboration, and will provide grant opportunities to the agencies. Eight homeless shelter providers were selected by the foundation.

The group chose to focus on families because of the significant impact homelessness has on children, including stress levels, education and health, Chun said.

Also, the federal government is now focusing on chronically homeless people, who tend to be single or adults, she said.

Some agencies might need to change the way they deploy staff to serve people dispersed throughout communities. The hope is that the agencies can collaborate.

“When individuals and organizations are brought together as a network, their learning leapfrogs, getting them to a better level, faster,” said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of Hawaii Community Foundation.

The group also will be better equipped to receive donations that might overwhelm an individual shelter, such as a gift of 100 beds from a hotel.

“Coordination is key to best utilizing our limited resources,” said Rona Fukumoto, division administrator for Catholic Charities Hawaii.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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