County directors weigh in on housing resources

LIHU‘E — On Kaua‘i, there are 716 individuals receiving direct rental assistance through the county.

On top of that, there are 50 people who have been authorized to receive rental assistance and are searching for housing.

An additional 700 people have recently been sent letters inviting them to complete the Housing Agency’s rental assistance application.

There’s 23 individuals or families on specialized rental assistance to move from houselessness to housed, and 48 on a waiting list for this help.

These are only some of the lists Housing Agency Director Adam Roveri shared during an Aug. 5 Public Safety and Human Services Committee Meeting briefing the county about Hale Kokua, initiatives to assist the houseless and emergency shelter resources, as requested by councilmember Felicia Cowden.

The Housing Agency has surveyed county properties as well as partner properties, and Roveri said the data doesn’t currently indicate a spike in houselessness.

“It’s been difficult to collect any clear data, but it doesn’t seem there’s many people transitioning to homelessness at the moment,” Roversi said.

However, if the eviction moratorium that’s currently in place until the end of August does not get extended, there will likely be a trend upward.

“I don’t think there has been a significant increase in homelessness due to COVID-19, but certainly if the eviction moratorium were to expire and not be renewed by the governor and/or in combination with that unemployment provisions were not renewed, I think we could easily see a wave of evictions on Kaua‘i,” Roversi said.

Hale Kokua provides a resource for the houseless community in making referrals to direct assistance. In fiscal year 2019, the Housing Agency reported moving 181 houseless individuals into permanent housing.

The county is also looking at alternative sites for the houseless communities currently confined to several beach parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are getting a lot of pressure for the general public,” Parks and Recreation Director Patrick Porter said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck also weighed in on the encampments, noting that there has not been a significant increase in calls. Kamalani has the highest level of calls for service, Raybuck reported.

But the first issue Cowden brought up was identification.

“When I am working with the people who have some of the most challenging situations, among the houseless community, there is a constant process of people not having their ID,” Cowden said.

She’s heard people having their stuff stolen or become lost when taken into evidence when arrested. Raybuck offered for these individuals to visit the main offices ask for Patrol Services to determine why identification was taken and where it could possibly be.

But it’s bigger than just not having identification, Cowden said. When somebody doesn’t have a way to identify themselves, there’s a good chance they don’t have transportation, a phone or internet services to apply for additional services, etc.

“If we aren’t able to address helping people with (having identification), we can’t address the deeper part of the problems,” Cowden said. “If we don’t help people through that process, they can’t go to step two.”

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

6 Comments
  1. Rev Dr Malama August 9, 2020 8:14 am Reply

    Disappointed but not surprised by the inaction of the County and Churches on Kauai!
    The Cares Act and private money along with the State Funding for Homeless is mostly going to pay salaries to people who are incapable of actually helping the majority of the homeless population…. acquiring id and medical care first is paramount and being safe in what ever encampments or shelters is a non reality as the new residents move to Kauai…..
    It’s really all about money, money, MONEY…..
    NO HEART AND NO ACTION BUT PLENTY LIPS FLAPPING….
    HEWA !!!!
    Time to huli this unlawful occupation of government and reinstate our Hawai’ian Kingdom government!!!
    HAWAIIANKINGDOM.ORG


  2. Anony Mouse August 9, 2020 10:23 am Reply

    I believe Catholic Charities/Legal Aid have had a system in place for some time to assist with homeless ID issues. They just need to contact those organizations.


  3. tunnels August 9, 2020 10:47 am Reply

    Getting state ID requires a boat load of other vital documents, a lot of red tape and dealing with other government agencies like the DMV and vital records not only in Hawaii, but across the other 49 states – all of which have specific requirements. For example, getting a birth certificate requires a a form of picture ID and notarization and/or a third party like a lawyer, to request the documents, depending on which state you’re dealing with.

    On Kauai, You can’t even renew your license or state ID without booking an appointment online then waiting a month to get in. Getting a homeless person’s vital documents and state ID is NOT a one size fits all. It requires mounds and mounds of paperwork and then waiting and waiting for a mail in birth certificate application to be processed and mailed back. It’s really nothing new dealing with red tape and government agencies so you shouldn’t be surprised.

    It’d be great if there was a one-stop shop like the one by the DMV (WorkWise/Hale Kokua?) that offered funding, pre-paid money cards, Obama phones, computers to utilize for printing birth certificate and state ID applications, housing and HUD applications, job applications, access to bus passes, access to phones to make calls, ad infinitum….


  4. WHOkauai August 9, 2020 12:59 pm Reply

    Develop a mobile program for the homeless to help find identity & complete documentation process.

    Some of the mainland homeless may want to lose their identity due to criminal past.

    It’s not safe for the community and not fair to us who comply. Not only are we held to a different standard but we are vulnerable to crime that may be committed by undocumented Americans.

    Is that difficult?


  5. Shelly August 9, 2020 2:06 pm Reply

    Please help those unemployed families stay in their homes, once a family becomes homeless it is so difficult to get back into a home


  6. Erik August 10, 2020 8:23 pm Reply

    I get people who still have phones asking to charge them in our store/pantry. Many homeless vets are entitled to assistance but have no ID like Felicia said. They have nowhere safe to store their stuff and it often gets stolen. Anybody that needs food can come by the Kapaa Community Food Pantry – Mon-Fri 10-5. We do what we can to help everybody get food and connect with services.


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