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HomeAid Hawai‘i

May 11, 2016

HomeAid Hawaii Constructs Solution for Homeless

For the past few years, homelessness has become a hot-button issue in Honolulu. While the government has taken on a variety of initiatives to ease the pressure facing the most vulnerable members of our society, city and state officials have made it clear that it's going to take a combined effort and partnership with the private sector to make real progress. As a means to address this complicated social issue, the city and the state have reached out to local nonprofits and goodwill organizations for help in getting the homeless off the streets and into homes. While there are a myriad of organizations on the ground working tirelessly to stem the tide—all of which deserve special recognition for their efforts—Ward Village Foundation is especially proud to support HomeAid Hawaii, (the 17th chapter of the national group) a nonprofit group who's shown that their model for addressing homelessness works quickly and efficiently.

With a mission to "build new lives for Hawaii's individuals and families experiencing homelessness through housing and community outreach" HomeAid is making a positive impact on this crisis. So how does their model work? HomeAid taps local building-industry heads in the private sector to use their know-how, connections, and generosity to build and repair structures that support Hawaii's homeless. Most recently, they've worked to patch a battered roof at the Institute for Human Services (IHS), the city's largest homeless shelter. And in March, they worked to repair an eight-bedroom home in Kalihi, known as Tutu Bert's House, that serves as a convalescent home for homeless recently discharged from the hospital that still require some help healing.

According to Connie Mitchell, executive director for IHS, creating a stable place for Hawaii's injured and ill to recuperate after they've been discharged from the hospital was direly needed. "Many of the guests require a high level of medical care and it's really difficult to care for these patients at the shelter," she told the Star-Advertiser. "A shelter is not a good place for people to recover, especially if they require intravenous antibiotics. We have a real need for this type of housing."

Tutu Bert's, which IHS rents, required a significant amount of work before it could begin housing those in need, funding that IHS couldn't spare. That's where HomeAid Hawaii, with the help of various local industry leaders, stepped in to get the job done.

The building industry's help not only saves IHS money from labor and hard costs to renovate the home, but it allows the nonprofits to dedicate their limited resources to provide program services, which is needed the most.

Nani Medeiros, Executive Director - HomeAid Hawai‘i

According to Medeiros, the financial contribution from the Ward Village Foundation paved the way for their entire program to exist. "The money we received from the Ward Village Foundation made HomeAid Hawaii possible. They were the first organization to work with us and were the ones who set our entire operation into motion. We had a tremendous year last year and we're looking forward to building on that success into next year. But to make it happen, we really need the help of the community. To help address homelessness in Hawaii, it's going to take a group effort with both the private and public sectors working together."

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