Legal Aid homeless project gets federal grant to expand

Officials at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii on Kaua‘i announced in a press release that they were successful in winning a $51,500 federal grant to expand their homeless- support program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are administered by officials in the county Offices of Community Assistance Kaua‘i Housing Agency.

The funds will allow for expansion of the Holistic Legal Services for the Homeless Project into the Homeless Legal Advocacy and Prevention Project (HLAPP).

In addition to continued provision of legal services to Kaua‘i’s homeless, Legal Aid attorneys through the new project will focus on preventing those who live in public-rental-housing projects from being evicted for nonpayment of rent, causing damage to the rental units, or other issues.

Members of many families may not realize that eviction from a public-rental- housing project carries a lifetime ban on ever getting back into the same type of government-assisted housing project.

Beyond helping to stabilize the lives of Kaua‘i’s homeless population as members of families and individuals make the transition from homelessness to independent living, HLAPP leaders will educate, advise, and represent public-housing families on the verge of homelessness and the lifetime ban that follows an eviction.

Gregory Meyers, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii Kaua‘i office, “Those families in housing need the education and advice of Legal Aid to prevent homelessness, while those whose applications were denied may need our assistance to overcome improper or otherwise- explainable problems with their application to ensure they have not lost out on a viable opportunity to end their homelessness.” According to officials with Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. and the County of Kaua‘i’s Continuum of Care Committee, nearly 600 people on Kaua‘i are considered homeless, sleeping in places not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations.

Emiko Ryan, Legal Aid Kaua‘i attorney, says it is critical to ensure that this number doesn’t go up.

“For each family saved from eviction, and each family successfully transitioned from homelessness into independent living, that’s two less families, or six to eight less people, living on the beach, relegated to potential crime to survive,” she said.

For more information on this project or free legal services on Kaua‘i, call 245-4728 and ask for Emiko Ryan.

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