(BIVN) – Overall homelessness decreased by 2% in Hawaiʻi, Maui and Kauaʻi Counties, according to information presented Tuesday during a press conference held in Pāhoa, detailing the results of the 2019 Homeless Point in Time Count conducted in January.
According to Bridging the Gap, a coalition of agencies working to end homelessness on neighbor islands, 2,035 persons were counted as homeless in 2018 across the three counties. 1,995 persons were counted in 2019.
In addition, family homelessness decreased by 18%, from 216 families in 2018 to 177 families in 2019.
Veteran homelessness decreased by 3% and youth homelessness decreased by 11%, according to the coalition.
Hawaiʻi Island experienced the largest overall decrease, with a 21% drop in homelessness (from 869 to 690). “The substantial decrease was a surprise, since last year’s natural disasters displaced more people than usual,” said Brandee Menino, Bridging the Gap Chair.
During the January count, 67 people stated their homelessness was caused by natural disasters.
Tuesday’s press conference was held under the community pavilion at the Sacred Heart Shelter micro-units, constructed during the summer 2018 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano.
According to a media release:
Every January, counties across the nation conduct the Homeless Point in Time Count, an annual survey of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. This year, volunteers canvassed parks, beaches, and other areas, asking people “Where did you sleep on January 22nd?” The federally mandated survey seeks to count anyone who slept on the street, in a car, or in other areas not meant for human habitation.
While the Point in Time Count does not capture every person experiencing homelessness, it provides a one-night snapshot of homelessness in Hawai`i. The data collected is compared county to county and year to year, to help stakeholders understand homelessness in their districts.
The report reflected an overall decrease of 2% in homelessness across the neighbor islands. However, the data also showed that each island has its own unique story.
Hawaiʻi Island experienced the largest overall decrease, with a 21% drop in homelessness, and Maui followed with a 1% decrease.
This year, Kauaʻi County experienced a 51% increase from 2018. The increase is attributed to more oversight and planning, an increase in the number of volunteers, and improved execution of Kauʻai County’s Point in Time Count.
On Hawaiʻi Island, “the substantial decrease was a surprise, since last year’s natural disasters displaced more people than usual,” says Brandee Menino, Bridging the Gap Chair. During the January count, 67 people stated their homelessness was caused by natural disasters.
Other positive highlights include an 11% decrease in youth homelessness, and a 3% decrease in veteran homelessness across the neighbor islands.
“Even though the data shows that homelessness is on the decline, there is still much work to do. We need to continue to invest in affordable housing, and maintain Housing First and Rapid Re-housing programs,” said Maude Cumming, previous Chair of Bridging the Gap.