See where Oahu's homeless residents are dying
Homeless are dying in record numbers on O'ahu, and now we have a better idea of where they're passing away.
Homeless are dying in record numbers on O'ahu, and now we have a better idea of where they are passing away.
It seems no matter where you look around the island, you will find homeless residents.
Beaches, sidewalks and storefronts, plus encampments popping up in unusual places.
Where homeless residents live, is also where they die.
"I've walked past a person that was dead. There was one upstairs at Institute for Human Services also, I couldn't get him out of bed," said homeless resident Joey Rebman.
Over the past 5 years, 8 homeless residents died in Oahu shelters, but many more have died along roads, in the water and while camping in parks. A total of 372 deaths during that time.
The area with the highest number deaths at 36, was the section of Honolulu between downtown to Waikiki.
An area where large homeless populations live in Kakaako and around Ala Moana.
The Waianae Coast has big and small groups of homeless and had nearly 2 dozen deaths during that time.
22 deaths were recorded from Kalihi to the Airport area.
While Waikiki and Downtown had 17 and 18 deaths respectively.
Other sections of the island had smaller amounts of deaths, with Waimanalo having the least at 2.
Not every location was recorded on death certificates, sometimes it would just list: a bus stop. There were 8 of those recorded.
A sidewalk, without a specific location, was cited 28 times.
Near or at homes, hospitals, and police cell blocks were all places where 44 homeless residents died.
What is known is homeless residents are dying decades earlier than Hawaii's average life expectancy, largely from unnatural causes.
"It is striking, our usual numbers for the type of death, we usually see more natural than anything. But in homeless populations that is switched, so that accidental deaths are higher than natural deaths. All those accidents, those are drug abuse deaths and preventable," said Dr. Christopher Happy, Honolulu's Medical Examiner.
A large percentage of Hawaii's homeless are illegal substance users, and meth is the main drug showing up on death certificates.
"I do the drugs, but don't let the drugs do you. That's how I look at it. If I get, get. If no more, no more," said homeless resident known as "Smallboy".
Now the city is hoping this report showing the high number of homeless deaths, largely because of drugs, will encourage people to say "no more" to living on the streets.
"As a community we have to say it is not right for people to stay in unsheltered settings," said Honolulu Housing Director Marc Alexander.
Temporary shelter is not enough to keep homeless residents alive, as 33 of the 372 deaths took place near or at a home of a friend or family member.
While the largest number of deaths took place in a park, where there were more than 50 recorded over the past 5 years.