2024 Legislative Session Recap

2024 Legislative Session Recap

Long before IHS began, our founder, Claude DuTeil, would meet with a small group of businessmen to discuss issues within the community, including those involving people experiencing homelessness. Together, they would consider practical solutions, often leading to advocacy for policy change. Now, all these years later, IHS continues to advocate for those yearning for a chance at living a stable life with permanent housing.

This year’s State Legislative session introduced a host of bills aimed at addressing Hawaii’s homelessness crisis, including a focus on mental health interventions and criminal diversion programs. We advocated for those as well as many other innovative policies and amendments to existing programs based on our experience serving vulnerable people and a determination to better serve them.

Below are the measures we supported that are awaiting Governor Green’s signature to enact them into law:

Act 158 (SB2305) - Relating to Missing Persons
Establishes Silver Alert Program within the Department of Law Enforcement to help locate missing persons, sixty-five years of age or older.

Act 087 (HB2159) - Relating to Legal Representation related to Assisted Community Treatment
Preserves Family Court’s ability to appoint an attorney for the subject of an assisted community treatment petition while removing language requiring Public Defender representation since these petitions do not subject a person to incarceration or being charged with a crime.

Act 213 (SB2347) - Relating to Crime
Establishes the felony offense of habitual violent crime, for those who, within five years, have three instances of assaults, including domestic violence. If signed into law, this bill will make it possible for some people prone to assaultive behaviors to be contained for treatment and prevent some injury to our vulnerable homeless population, who are often victimized.

Act 086 (SB3139) - Relating to Crisis Services
Establishes Crisis Intervention and Diversion Services Program within the Department of Health, increasing the availability of diversion services for individuals experiencing mental health crises and making emergency mental health evaluations more efficient by providing an alternate site for such evaluation to the hospital emergency department.

HCR 143 / HR125 - Relating to Funding for Human Services
This House Resolution and House Concurrent Resolution urges the State departments of Human Services, Health, and Judiciary to adequately fund contracts for human services, including homeless services. To learn more about the true cost of homeless services, check out this article.

We want to express our heartfelt thanks to advocates and partners who testified alongside us for two measures that did not make it out of conferences:

HB1834 - Relating to the Department of Human Services
This measure would have increased the funding to the Department of Human Services’ Homeless Programs Office, increasing the contract rates for emergency homeless services, including our women’s and men’s shelter, which has not been increased in over 10 years.

HB2309 - Relating to Homelessness
This measure would have established a Homeless Triage and Treatment Center program under the Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Division, providing an opportunity for funding IHS’ ‘Imi Ola Piha site and similar future detox centers throughout the state.

Thank you for linking your voice with ours through your efforts to offer testimony and conversation with lawmakers. Our collective voice matters and, in many cases, has made the difference between having a chance at life, or being taken by an early demise.  To learn more about our programs, please visit our website or get involved by volunteering or donating today!

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