Study:25% of isle population homeless risk

CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer

LIHU’E — A newly released study provides a detailed and revealing portrait of

some of the neediest people on Kaua’i — the island’s homeless.

The

statewide study identifies 15,129 people, or 25 percent of Kaua’i’s population,

as hidden homeless or at risk of homeless, and it shows that 153 residents,

including 13 children, are in need of permanent housing.

Meanwhile, an

updated County Housing Agency report, presented to the County Council on

Wednesday, shows county housing rental projects more than 95 percent full.

Currently, the county the county has no plans or funding to build more rental

units.

The issue of housing needs on Kaua’i was a raised at a Citizens

Advisory Committee meeting on the General Plan Update held last week. Some CAC

members expressed concerns that draft GPU is projecting development over the

next 20 years without current information on Kaua’i’s housing needs.

At the

Council meeting, Councilman Gary Hooser, referencing the CAC meeting, asked

county housing officials how they are able to plan without the benefit a

housing needs assessment. Ken Rainforth, housing administrator, said that

although such a study would be useful it would also be expensive.

Hooser

requested that the housing agency do a North Shore housing needs assessment in

preparation for Council consideration of legislation on Princeville

Corporation’s request to delete a zoning requirement for 100 units of employee

housing, a condition of expanding its shopping center.

A public hearing

on the proposed Princeville bill is scheduled for March 15 at 2 p.m. in the

Council chambers.

Councilman James Tokioka expanded Hooser’s request and

asked the housing agency to do a countywide housing needs

assessment.

According to the state’s Homeless Needs Assessment Study

for1999, service providers have expressed concerns over recent federal policy

to de-concentrate poverty by providing for income mixing which brings higher

income residents into lower income projects.

Providers fear that this will

limit the supply of affordable housing for the low or very low income families.

They say that affordable housing is already out of reach for those relying on

public assistance or working part time jobs.

Revealing statistics show that

the majority of hidden homeless (3,396) and those at risk for homelessness

(11,321) on Kaua’i were lifetime or longtime residents of the island, in their

late 40’s, female and Caucasians.

The study defines hidden homeless as

persons who share accommodations with others who may or may not be relatives or

depend on public assistance for their shelter payments. In both situations if

public assistance or the generosity of relatives a and friends were withdrawn

there is a strong likelihood that at least some of those persons would end up

homeless.

The at-risk for homelessness population on Kaua’i is 11, 321 and

identified by the study as those who families or individuals who could become

homeless in less than three months if they lost their primary source of

income.

Of the 67 people identified in the study as Kaua’i’s unsheltered

homeless two thirds are male with an average age of 38, Caucasian. The 20

percent of this group are lifetime residents, most have five years or less

living on Kaua’i.

The profile of Kaua’i’s sheltered homeless identified as

families or individuals who do not have a fixed, regular, and adequate

nighttime residence and have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or

private operated shelter providing temporary living accommodations, are

predominately Hawaiian or part Hawaiian females in their late thirties.

The Kaua’i children identified in the study were profiled as sheltered

homeless an average of seven years old equally divided by gender and 77 percent

Hawaiian or part Hawaiian.

On the positive side Kaua’i’s homeless according

to the study were having their basic food needs and substance abuse need met

but were in need of dental care, medication for mental health, life skills and

job training.

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