12 Jul 2020 Point-in-Time Counts highlights success, work ahead
June 2020 – Each year, IHS, The Institute for Human Services participates in a state-wide Point-in-Time count to determine how many are homeless on Oahu. It offers a one-day population snapshot and shifts over time. Data from 2020’s Point in Time Count became available to the public earlier this month. A Honolulu Star-Advertiser article can be read here. You can also see the comprehensive data report on the Partners in Care website.
The numbers will always fluctuate as many move in to housing and others fall into homelessness. However, this helps us determine how homelessness may be evolving across our islands over time. The Point-in-Time Count also gives us more data about unsheltered homelessness so that providers can allocate community’s resources to better meet needs. It also helps us to consider new strategies.
While 2,346 homeless people on Oahu isn’t something to celebrate, it is good news that homelessness remained relatively flat from 2019. Given the new methodology for the count, IHS was pleased to see that even with the inclusion of more observed and unsurveyed people in the count, there was still a 2% decrease in unsheltered homeless. By comparison, many metro cities on the West coast have noted double-digit increases from 2019 to 2020.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Since 2015, Oahu has seen a 48% drop in homeless families; 45% decline in homeless children and 24% reduction in homeless veterans.
- In the past year alone, Oahu saw a 7% decrease in families thanks to concerted and collective efforts to get as many families with keiki under roof this year which resulted in a 36% decrease in unsheltered children in one year since the 2019 count.
- In all, the unsheltered count dropped slightly. While unsheltered individuals comprised 52% of homeless people counted, if the trend were to continue, we might see a reverse in the five-year trend which first saw more people on the street than in shelters in 2018. In addition to the 2,346 unsheltered individuals, there were 2,102 homeless individuals counted in shelters and other temporary housing solutions, making up the 48% remaining balance of the total number of homeless people.
Looking ahead at the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis, we anticipate more may lose housing. Distribution of rental subsidies will provide short-term help. Yet it won’t be enough to reboot our economy. We need to develop employment opportunities alongside these subsidies. IHS is committed to helping with solutions including homeless prevention rent subsidies and rapid rehousing of folks to stabilize housing; AND helping people find alternate employment by connecting them to training opportunities. Our staff act as counselors, encouraging people to look for jobs so they can flourish.
Policies and practices need to think long term if we are to rebuild our community for a healthier future. Your support has helped us fuel thoughtful changes to our service systems and ensure that we can collectively continue to help our most vulnerable community members.