Donate for the homeless. Help them out.
Not so fast.
There are some who will argue that the more you do for the homeless, the less they will do for themselves. The more food, clothing and shelter you provide for the homeless, the more homeless you will have.
Then there are those who will argue you can’t ignore them. They are there, right in front of us, sleeping on sidewalks, hanging out in parks and on beaches, sitting outside stores, wandering the streets. And until a recent crackdown, they had encampments in Lihue that were a source of concern for residents and business owners. But if you decline to do anything for them, it’s doubtful their situation will change.
And being homeless, whether by choice or circumstance, is a hard life. Recently, two homeless people were found dead on Kauai.
Kauai police recovered the body of a man in a remote area of Lumahai Beach, on the North Shore, on May 15. Police do not suspect foul play in the cause of his death.
The man was known to live along the beach at Lumahai. According to witness reports, community members had not seen the man in a while so on Wednesday they went to check on him at his known campsite along Lumahai Beach. There, about 8:30 a.m., he was discovered dead.
A 45-year-old woman, Wubnesh Hylton, was found dead May 13 in a parked vehicle at the end of Poha Road, in Anahola.
According to police, a passerby found the woman unresponsive in her vehicle about 6:30 a.m., and called 911. First responders arrived and administered CPR, but the woman could not be revived and she was presumed dead at the scene.
Two homeless people found dead within days of each other raises plenty of rumors and speculation about what happened and why. Let’s not waste time speculating.
But these deaths should raise our awareness and our efforts to help the homeless.
While we’re not advocating you start handing out money to our homeless population or invite them into your home or even approach them at the beach, we are asking that you donate to those organizations whose mission is to help them.
That’s why we give credit to the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association.
HLTA, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, recently distributed $38,000 to seven nonprofits on Kauai that serve the homeless.
The recipients were the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Kauai Division; Catholic Charities of Hawaii, Kauai Office; Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch; Kauai Independent Food Bank; Kauai North Shore Food Pantry; ‘Ohana Christian Fellowship; and The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Division – Kauai Corps. The organizations, which have been serving the homeless in tourism-impacted areas, were selected by the HLTA based on county chapter input and final approval by the state board.
HLTA President and CEO Mufi Hannemann had this to say: “These grants were the result of a very productive public-private partnership of the state Legislature and administration, Hawaii Tourism Authority, and visitor industry, as represented by the HLTA. All of the money, both tax revenues and matching funds, were generated by our top industry, tourism. Moreover, it’s going to a cause that addresses a long-standing concern for our entire community, not just the visitor industry.”
The HLTA has donated more than $2 million to date to homelessness service providers, most of it through the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk.
We applaud their efforts and ask those who can to follow their lead.
Bridging the Gap, a coalition of agencies working to end homelessness on neighbor islands, presented the results of its 2019 Homeless Point in Time Count earlier this year.
This year, Kauai County experienced a 51% increase to a total of 443 from 293 in 2018. The increase was attributed to more oversight and planning, an increase in the number of volunteers, and improved execution of Kauai County’s Point in Time Count.
Numbers bear that out. The Point in Time Count in previous years on Kauai found 412 homeless in 2017, 442 in 2016 and 339 in 2015.
Statewide, it found:
w Overall homelessness decreased by 2% (2,035 persons in 2018 to 1,995 persons in 2019);
w Family homelessness decreased by 18% (216 families in 2018 to 177 families in 2019);
w Veteran homelessness decreased by 3%;
w Youth homelessness decreased by 11%.
While the decrease is encouraging, we know we will always have the homeless with us. We know it is not easy to be generous, compassionate or patient with the homeless. Some are nice people who made mistakes. Some are not and have made foolish decisions.
As individuals, perhaps the best we can do is to donate to those organizations that have the resources and the people to help them and, hopefully, get their lives on the road to recovery.