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VOICES: Here’s ideas to fight homelessness

How can we help to decrease homelessness in Hawai‘i?

Homelessness has become an ongoing issue that impacts the population socially and economically. According to Lt. Gov. Josh Green, there are “around 15,000 homeless individuals (chronically homeless means those who have been homeless for more than six months and have mental and/or physical health conditions)”

Individuals are facing challenges of homelessness on top of medical health issues, including mental health illnesses, addiction and PTSD. Homelessness has limited the expected estimated life to 53 years for men and almost 30 years for women, which is less than average.

Homelessness is happening everywhere in Hawai‘i. Homelessness is around the islands, including on sidewalks, parks or any public place. Nonetheless, as homelessness is all over the islands, most of the homeless population lives on O‘ahu.

According to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawai‘i News Now, more than 4,000 people are homeless, and almost 60% are not sheltered. More than half of O‘ahu are families. The numbers have doubled in the past 10 years. The numbers of homeless are at an increasing rate, also including families and children. From the parks to the sidewalks, families and people are living on the street more and more every year.

Homelessness is an issue that creates a rippling effect throughout the community.

The issue impacts and shows throughout social agencies, individuals and families. Some 15% of the homeless population are chronic, or persistently homeless. Of this population, 50% use homeless services, which have an estimated value of $7.6 million.

The shelters, emergency rooms, police and correctional facilities’ tax-funded programs are used, according to CaringWorks. Homelessness becomes very profitable for the community, as it is continuously being spent among the homeless it takes from the economy. The social agencies, individuals and families that implemented time, effort and money are becoming short-lived due to the decreasing profit that is being produced for homelessness. The problem is becoming harder to fix because of the lack of motivation from homeless people’s efforts on staying off the street.

Health is one of the most affected long-term problems associated with homelessness. Homeless people encounter a lot of health issues in their lives. As a result of the lack of attention from doctors and family members, the health portion isn’t controllable. This issue also extends to a higher premature mortality rate. As compared to those who are housed, homeless people are injured, unintentionally overdose and exposed to extreme weather events, in short attaining a poor quality of life.

Another main issue that is affected is homeless people personally. As the realization sets in towards the reality of their lifestyle, it becomes rather hard for them to be motivated to change and causes them to suffer psychologically.

To my research, homelessness impacts someone’s physical and mental health. In addition to not being sheltered, it comes with the realization that there will be no change.

Nevertheless, showing support through the community can create that sense of momentum that removes people off the street. My proposed action will be implemented by posting and placing an awareness poster around the island.

It will remind people that even though they are removed from public areas it’s still an ongoing problem. This action can also be spread through social media. Reposting and sharing the poster can impact more people.

In addition to the engagement posters, we should encourage more drives that could expect food, clothes and donations. It allows people to have the option of changing another life with a simple donation.

In addition to these viable donations, I would like to highlight Lindsey Pacheco, who is a homelessness survivor and the founder of the KPOK group.

This group focuses on “Healing people, Building Community, One community at a time.” Its main objective is to provide effort in finding land for a Kauhele to achieve a permanent home for homeless people.

I would like for her to also contribute towards homelessness on Kaua‘i by the donations to be sent to a group like these to build our community and others.

It’s very beneficial for these groups to be heard also and spread the word among our ‘ohana here on Kaua‘i. Therefore, all the profit that is contributed in the donations will be sent towards the KPOK group to start that group here on Kaua‘i.

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Ashley Pabustan is a resident of Hanapepe.
Source: The Garden Island

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