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914 unsheltered people moved to homes in the last six months

Confronting Homelessness

Do you have questions about what is going on with homelessness on Maui? If so you will be interested to know that the Maui Homeless Alliance made a presentation to Maui County Council last week. This presentation was very thorough and is well worth watching as it will answer many of your questions. Alliance segment starts at the 1:46 mark and ends at 4:30 it can be found at http://mauicounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=1198.

In July, I expressed my amazement that during January through June of this year 538 people were moved from homelessness into permanent housing.

Since then, my amazement and excitement reached a new level when a few days ago it was reported that in the last six months 914 people were moved from a houseless existence into permanent homes on Maui! Monique Yamashita of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers said it perfectly in the council presentation, and I have to agree: “This is something to be celebrated!”

The current data continues to show that Housing First Works. The reason that we are seeing such great success is that the case managers of Maui Homeless Alliance, which include those working at Family Life Center, Ka Hale A Ke Ola and Salvation Army, never give up on anyone. They continue to work tirelessly often through evenings to find those who are living unsheltered. They have discovered that after dark is often the best time to find people since they are settling down for the evening in their cars and chosen places of habitation. 

Not only do they never give up, they have made it their mission to know the name and location of every person who lives the homeless lifestyle on this island. I have personally made numerous calls to the Family Life Center in regards to homeless friends who indicate that they are ready to move into a home. On every occasion, they know exactly who I am talking about. When someone new enters homelessness, they soon hear about them from various sources, which include Maui Police Department, and they immediately go out and get acquainted so that a relationship can be built and plans can be made to move them into a home.

The common vision and goal of the Homeless Alliance majority is to move people into a permanent home, believing that the safety of a stable living environment is a fundamental right for everyone. It is also the general consensus that temporary shelters are not the final objective, as the name implies they are short-term and when used, they are a transitional place intended for the preparation of moving into someplace more permanent.

This final goal of the alliance takes a twofold approach. The first step is to help people find a safe permanent home with four walls and a door that locks. And second step is to help them keep living in that stable environment by pooling the resources of the Maui Homeless Alliance members.

There is an old saying; it takes a village to raise a child. This saying is also a good mental image of what it takes to help the unsheltered people in our community, with the village being the Maui Homeless Alliance. The alliance is represented by numerous alliance members, who provide the resources needed to help people stay sheltered. For example, there are nonprofit organizations that specialize in mental health, physical health, legal matters, veteran services, food provision, housing and shelters, along with the participation of the Department of Health, Department of Education, MPD community police, government organizations that specialize in housing and concerned community members.

It is through this alliance that efforts are coordinated with a common goal of helping people exit homelessness and move into the safe environment of a permanent home.

* Joyce Kawakami is a full-time volunteer, founder, and CEO of Feed My Sheep Inc. As an active member of the Maui Homeless Alliance, she chairs the Awareness Committee. The Alliance meets on the fourth Friday of the month.

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