The homeless in Hawaii have reached record levels, state officials say, so much so that Hawaii’s governor David Ige has declared a state of emergency.
The Associated Press, as reported by Fox News on Oct. 18, said the governor’s declaration comes “just days after city and state officials cleared one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.” The move is thought to fast-track efforts to relocate the state’s estimated 7,000 homeless into soon to be built shelters.
According to 2014 numbers reported by the United States Interagency Council on Homeless, Hawaii has nearly 500 homeless per every 100,000 people. A total of 6,918 were reported as being homeless, with over 3,000 of them experiencing homelessness as a family. Numbers have increased drastically since then as well.
Scott Morishige, Hawaii’s state homelessness coordinator, reported that since 2014, there has been a 23 percent increase in those without homes, and an even bigger increase – by 46 percent – in the number of unsheltered families.
“We are making sure that we have options for those who are homeless to move into an emergency shelter, and the biggest deficit in the system is shelter space for families,” Governor Ige said. “So the emergency proclamation would allow us to stand up shelters for families in an expeditious manner.”
While Hawaii is seen as the ultimate vacation destination, the reality for many is that it is a daily struggle. “Homelessness remains a serious issue in every county throughout the state,” Gov. David Ige said.
Other states have much higher homeless rates – California has about 114,000 homeless, New York has more than 80,000 and Texas nearly 30,000 – but Hawaii’s concern is paramount when you look at the per capita rate.
At close to 500 reported as homeless per 100,000 citizens, the Aloha State – with its 1.3 million population – has the highest rate of homelessness per capita among any of the other states.
“The alarming increase in unsheltered individuals and families over the past two years is particularly significant on Oahu,” Morishige said of the state’s most populous island according to CNN. “This proclamation will expedite the state’s plans to help these individuals and families to more quickly transition to permanent housing.”