[Hpn] Homeless count increases

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 12:16:04 -0400


Homeless count increases
Along the Waianae Coast, one group estimates 725 to 850 occupy campsites
By Robert Shikina
rshikina@starbulletin.com
For the third year in a row, the homeless population living on beaches along 
the Waianae Coast has increased, according to a report released yesterday by 
a local nonprofit organization.

Waianae Community Outreach estimates 725 to 850 people live at nearly 350 
coastal campsites in tents, cars and tarp-covered dwellings. A final report 
is expected at the end of September.

Previous counts along the Waianae Coast found there were 650 homeless in May 
2005 and 400 in 2003.

"I expected more. In our experience there is more," said Kanani Kaaiawahia 
Bulawan, executive director of Waianae Community Outreach, the lead 
organization involved in the count.

The count focused on the makai side of Farrington Highway and did not 
include the homeless living on the streets or in cars across the highway, 
said Michael Ullman, the count coordinator. The count was taken only at 
beaches because of limited resources and safety issues, he said.

Some government officials believe that 1,000 to 4,000 homeless live on the 
Leeward side.

"There's quite a bit of what they call hidden homeless, which can sometimes 
double the number, maybe more," said Kaulana Park, who was appointed the 
state's homeless solutions team leader by Gov. Linda Lingle earlier this 
year.

Park said it is premature to comment on the report because he has not seen 
it, but said, "One thing we do agree upon is the numbers are huge. And they 
continue to get higher and higher."

Park said it is more important to find out the needs of the homeless 
population and how the homeless can be helped.

The state is expected to open a building for the homeless on Barbers Point 
by the end of this year, Park said. The completed renovation of the Kalaeloa 
property will provide about 200 living units -- only a small portion of what 
is needed for the homeless, Park said.

"With the Leeward side, you don't just have one beach like Ala Moana; you're 
talking 16 miles. We have to be very careful how we approach this," Park 
said.

Seventy community members, faith-based organizations, homeless and the 
formerly homeless participated in the count at the beginning of this week.

"If you go out 12 different days, you're going to get 12 different numbers," 
Ullman said.

He estimates that the hidden homeless -- those who live in cars or double up 
with other people living in units in violation of occupancy rules -- would 
increase the number of homeless on the Waianae Coast to nearly 1,200.

Ullman said he is trying to start the counting process at least quarterly to 
get a more accurate count.

With 50,000 people living in Waianae and nearly 1,000 people without homes, 
"it's literally one in 50 people that are living homeless. That's not good," 
Ullman said.

"It's basic science," Ullman said. "You count, then intervention (then you 
count again)."

Ullman also said counting the homeless is a community-building process, 
allowing people to learn about the causes of homelessness.

The larger estimate of homeless on the Waianae Coast probably originates 
from the number of people service providers have helped, which include 
people with homes at risk for homelessness, Ullman said.

Ullman expects the final report will show the same numbers as the 
preliminary report. The numbers will be divided into 12 to 15 areas along 
the coast, Ullman said.

Partners in Care is expected to coordinate a count of the all the homeless 
on Oahu in January.