- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii officials are seeking $3 million to expand the state’s Housing First program on Oahu to Hawaii island, Maui and Kauai.

The program provides permanent housing to homeless people without demanding sobriety or other conditions before placement. Landlords in the program are assured of rent, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/2lqVcDb) Monday.

The current Housing First money comes out of $12 million that the Legislature designated last year to address homelessness.

Gov. David Ige now wants to keep Oahu’s program running with an additional $1.5 million. He’s looking to launch Housing First on the other islands in April with $750,000 for Hawaii island, $510,000 for Maui and $240,000 for Kauai.

The state Department of Human Services issued a request for proposals on Feb. 10 from agencies wanting to match homeless people with landlords and property managers. The proposals are due March 10.

Landlords get guaranteed rent and are provided with a social services contact to assist them with any problems they may have with their tenants.

Heather Pierucki, director of behavioral health at Helping Hands Hawaii, said the program can be attractive to landlords because “there’s a practical component and a compassion component. They may see this need and they want to participate.”

On Oahu, separate Housing First programs run by the city and state found permanent homes for 196 people by June 2015. By the end of this year, 600 homeless people on Oahu are expected to be placed into Housing First rental units.

Sims Santa Ana used to live in a tent at the Kapalama Canal homeless encampment before it was shut down in 2015. He is now in a Housing First apartment in Kalihi, where he said he follows two basic rules.

“Just keep the noise down and keep the house clean,” Santa Ana said. “Right now I’m learning about responsibility and wanting to live.”

Oahu’s homeless population increased by less than 1 percent in 2016, according to state data. At the same time, homelessness grew by 12 percent on Hawaii island, 30 percent on Kauai and 1 percent on Maui, for a combined statewide homeless population of 7,620 people.


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



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