- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - A Hawaii organization is planning to help homeless shelters, including building one for medically fragile homeless people who are released from hospitals.

HomeAid Hawaii is working with the local construction industry to provide discounted or free construction materials and labor to help homeless shelters.

The nonprofit group is working to renovate two shelters that support youth, families and individuals. The group is also helping to improve a home that will be open in March for homeless people who are discharged from hospitals or need medical care.

The Youth Outreach drop-in center in Waikiki, Next Step Shelter and the Institute for Human Services are the shelters receiving assistance.

The Institute for Human Services is opening a new shelter for homeless who are discharged from the hospital. The shelter, named Tutu Bert’s House, aims to serve up to 90 individuals per year with a target stay of six weeks.

The program, scheduled to open in March 2016, will provide follow up care and allow for recovery periods after hospitalization. It will be a 12-bed facility in a two-story home.

“Queens Medical Center identified a need for such a program, and we stepped up to meet that need,” said Kimo Carvalho, spokesman for the Institute for Human Services. “But the partnership with HomeAid Hawaii’s construction teams were a huge blessing because we had not anticipated so much retrofitting and renovation.”

Meanwhile, the Youth Outreach drop-in center in Waikiki will get upgrades for the bathroom, kitchen, living room and clinic. They serve about 500 homeless and runaway youth each year by offering medical care as well as social and educational support.

Next Step Shelter, which serves as an emergency and transitional shelter for individuals and families, will get roof repairs.

The repairs were originally estimated at $23,000, but they would only cost $2,800 with help from HomeAid Hawaii, said Lambert Lum, director of services at Next Step.

Homelessness in Hawaii has grown in recent years. The islands have the nation’s highest rate per capita, ahead of New York and Nevada, according to federal statistics. A state report from 2015 says the state needs nearly 66,000 homes to meet the demand in the next 10 years.

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