Monday, March 04, 2024 |
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Allocation of nearly $10 million for homeless service providers came one step closer to reality Tuesday as the County Council’s Legislative Approvals and Acquisitions Committee unanimously advanced a resolution to a full council hearing.
The projects target an array of initiatives from permanent supportive housing to substance abuse and mental health treatment to providing services to community members who need assistance in connecting to stable housing opportunities . Also funded are programs providing hygiene outreach, street medicine and family reunification for persons experiencing homelessness.
The funding comes from the Homelessness and Housing Fund created in 2022 through Ordinance 22-26, which appropriates 75% of tier two property tax revenues annually to address homelessness and housing on Hawaii Island. The funding is set to expire in 2027.
“Together with our non-profit community partners we are working to bolster the programs and services that play a vital role in protecting and uplifting some of the most vulnerable members of our community on Hawaii Island,” said Housing Administrator Susan Kunz.
The first round of Homelessness and Housing Fund grants were awarded in spring 2023. OHCD received 31 applications from 21 different nonprofit organizations requesting over $25 million, far exceeding the available funding. Following an extensive review process, OHCD awarded over $7.5 million to 13 nonprofits for 16 projects addressing homelessness and housing on Hawaii Island.
In this round of applications, of the 31 applicants vying for a portion of the nearly $10 million, 16 organizations were awarded 22 projects.
A six-member evaluation committee performed an extensive review process to rank the proposals, and the top 22 were selected for grants.
Nearly a dozen service providers testified to the work the grant money enables them to do, and their plans for further initiatives, with a recurrent theme of collaboration between agencies will help solve the problem, urging council to pass the resolution.
Andi Losalia, executive director of Bridge House praised the idea of different service providers working together for the shared goal.
“Working as a hui, how we can support each other is unbelievable,” she said.
As the different agencies highlighted their services revolving on providing housing, Regina Weller of 808 Homeless Taskforce told of using the grant money to send homeless back to the mainland and reuniting them with family and provide them with services.
“This year we will be sending 70 people home. That is a savings of over $1 million in benefits the state would have paid if they remained here,” she said.
Kunz praised the current providers, emphasizing the need for a multiprong approach.
“The only way to end homelessness is to house them,” she said. “We must continue to provide services. This second round grants will ensure our partners are able to continue and expand efforts to address the immediate needs of our community while the County of Hawai‘i works to improve its overall system of care by investing in infrastructure to deliver services while also working to construct and preserve affordable housing because at the end of the day the only way to end homelessness is through housing, Approaching homelessness through collaboration and partnerships is the only way we are going to move toward ensuring homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring.”
District 7 Council Member Rebecca Villegas said although she approved of the intent to distribute the money, she questioned the allocation of 35% of the total amount being awarded to one entity, Hope Services.
“My constituents are dissatisfied with the services provided for the amount of money spent. I find it unfortunate all that money is going to one organization,” she said. “There is so much money going into this and the numbers just keep going up.”
The resolution was passed 9-0 and forwarded to full council To be heard later this month.
“These funds help to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to addressing homelessness on Hawaii Island. We have been working diligently to address the issue of homelessness in our parks and streets in a way that honors every individual as a close-knit member of our community. There is no easy way to go about it, but I’m confident that with these partnerships in place we will make significant strides forward, with aloha,” said Mayor Mitch Roth.
Proposed Office of Housing and Community Development Grant Recipients
$25,000 – West Hawaii Community Health Center for Hawaii Island Street Medicine Program
$362,060 – Mental Health Kokua for Supportive housing and workforce development
$237,296 – Bridge House for recovery housing programs
$281,486 – Going Home Hawaii for reentry and recovery housing
$288,933 – Project Vision Hawaii for hygiene outreach and street medicine
$1,200,000 – Big Island Substance Abuse Council Malamapono Center
$250,000 Big Island Substance Abuse Council Mohala Center
$213,920 – Salvation Army transitional housing for foster youth
$690,817 – Going Home Hawaii Hi Island frequent used systems-justice involved homeless services
$166,000 – Habitat for Humanity for Construction projects
$214,210 – Neighborhood Place of Puns for Pathways to excellence in practice
$137,000 – Lokahi Treatment Centers for substance abuse and mental health treatment for homeless individuals
$307,684 – Neighborhood Place of Puna for Ohana Homeless Prevention and Support Program
$286,459 – Neighborhood Place of Puna for a coordination center
$1,643,781.13 – Hope Services Hawaii – Hale Kulike (34 Rainbow Dr.)
$641,802.67 – Child and Family Services for expansion of Hale Ohana
$331,990.91 – Hope Services for an emergency family shelter
$285,530 – Salvation Army Transitional Housing for Youth
$867,635.17 – Hope Services for Ending Homelessness through Behavioral Health and Health Services
$292,304 – 808 Homeless Task Force Family Reunification Program
$195,985.87 – Hope Services Hale Maluhia Emergency Shelter
$374.564.57 – Hope Services West Hawaii Emergency Housing Program
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