Federal census of Hawaii homeless rescheduled for September

HONOLULU — The federal census of Hawaii’s homeless residents has been delayed until late September because of the coronavirus pandemic, an official said.

U.S. Census Bureau spokeswoman Jeanette Duran says the count of the state’s homeless population was moved to Sept. 22 through Sept. 24, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

The count was previously scheduled for March 30 through April 1 but was postponed because of state health restrictions.

The census conducted every 10 years has the potential to affect Hawaii’s share of $800 billion in federal spending over the next 10 years.

The government continues to recruit workers to count homeless people across the islands in encampments, shelters and “laundromats and soup kitchens,” Duran said.

Census takers, who are paid $24 per hour, will have personal protective equipment and follow social distancing guidelines to help produce an accurate count of homeless residents, Duran said.

The federal government’s census is expected to represent “simply a snapshot of the (homeless) population,” Duran said.

In the last nationwide homeless census in 2010, Hawaii led the nation with the largest percentage of homeless people under the age of 18 at 37%, Duran said.

In this year’s Point in Time Count, an annual head count of homeless residents, workers counted 4,448 homeless people across Oahu in January. The homeless population on neighboring islands was 2,010.

The amount of federal funds for Hawaii relies on an accurate count this year, said Marc Alexander, executive director of the Honolulu Office of Housing.

“Whether they’re homeless or not, each person counts for $2,500 a year, so it’s important,” Alexander said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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