–Published in The Honolulu Weekly on March 9, 2011–


In the last year alone, 13,886 people experienced homelessness and/or received shelter services in Hawaii–a 3 percent increase from 2009. For the last five years, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center on the Family has been issuing yearly reports detailing state and county statistics on homeless demographics and services to better track trends over time. The report has shown an increase in shelter capacity, funds and services. However, many of the findings of this past year’s Homeless Services Utilization Report are still shocking.

The city and county of Honolulu served the largest percentage of individuals in homeless shelter programs (74 percent), followed by Maui (13 percent), Hawaii (8 percent), and Kauai (4 percent). Of the total number of individuals receiving services, one-third were minors (ages 0-17) and more than half of them were below the age of 6.

Seventy-four percent of individuals using shelter services were unemployed. College-educated adults made up 23 percent of shelter populations and nearly half (47 percent) of the adults had high school diplomas or GEDs.