Aloha Chamber members,
Hawaii has the highest per capita homelessness in the nation. Approximately 1,500 are chronically homeless (addiction, mental illness, homeless for more than six months). The cost to the state per homeless person is more than $82,000 per year for healthcare services. This does not include other categories of homelessness, including transitional or episodic. This is hardly sustainable. Urgent action is necessary to prevent the exacerbation of the situation that without coordination, collaboration and partnership, will impact the health of Hawaii’s economy and the livelihood of our people.
As such, in a continuing effort to elevate awareness of the homeless population and share information on steps that are being taken to address this critical issue, Lt. Governor Josh Green shared his 10 Point Plan: An Initiative on Chronic Homeless at the Chamber’s last Board of Directors meeting. He identifies the Chronic Homelessness Trifecta as the intersection of Poverty, Mental Illness and Drug Addiction. His 10 Point Plan is a multi-prong approach which includes health and human services, temporary and permanent housing, and addiction services. As the Lieutenant Governor stated, “housing is healthcare.”
To prevent the homeless population from continuing to grow, we need to address Hawaii’s high cost of living issues, particularly for many residents who are on the brink of homelessness or one paycheck away. We need to look at what’s driving the cost. And, what we can do to address the issue from a foundational level, rather than with solutions that appear to help, but don’t necessarily move the needle.
Laulima & mahalo,
President & CEO