New clinic for the homeless is in the works in Kaneohe
Care for the homeless will be expanding over the Koolau mountains. A new joint outreach center is in the works in Windward Oahu. The walk-in clinic will offer medical attention and social services for the homeless.
"It's really a new approach to homeless and dealing with the homelessness problem. Instead of giving someone a sandwich or a meal or a place to stay that's safe for one night. We're really trying to tackle homelessness and make a permanent impact on the homeless population," State Rep. Scot Matayoshi, said.
Matayoshi and other state lawmakers Rep. Lisa Kitagawa and Sen. Senator Jarrett Keohokalole are working on the new center in Kaneohe, next to the police station.
Aside from medical services, Matayoshi hopes to have social welfare programs, showers, and laundry machines in the building.
"If a homeless person is homeless on the windward side and you offer them services in town. Chances are they're not gonna take it. They're not gonna take that bus ride over. They're not gonna have the transportation to get to Iwilei or any of the town locations," he said.
The new facility is a three year pilot project and will become Oahu's second outreach center, operated by Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui. That organization is already running the first center in Chinatown that opened last April. 90 percent of the new outreach center is is funded by private organizations and businesses. But the state and city are also chipping in money for the project.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell worked on the issue of homelessness throughout his administration. He agrees more resources like this are needed.
"This needs to be repeated all around the island. Having one in Chinatown, one in Kaneohe isn't gonna be enough. We need one on the west side, we need one in Waimanalo, probably North Shore and in Waikiki," Caldwell said.
At the end of the pilot program, an analysis will determine the center's effectiveness. Matayoshi says that report will determine if it's worth expanding the project. He hopes the center will open by the end of summer.