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:
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.