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Hawaiʻi continues to have the highest houseless rate in the Nation, a complex and challenging issue that grows worst every year. Government has the kuleana to care for those who are unable to take care of themselves. No one should be houseless today and this is especially true for our keiki, no child should grow up houseless. The current situation is a national disgrace that must be addressed.
We must act to get individuals and families off the streets and into accommodations that are safe and clean. This can be traditional homes or non-traditional houseless camp communities for those who prefer such. We must adopt a comprehensive state framework to address houselessness. We must address the underlying causes of homelessness, whether it is unemployment, mental illness, substance abuse, or any other factor. In addressing these root causes, we must think outside of the box, collaborate with county, state, and federal governments, faith-based organizations, community groups, nonprofits, business, and concerned individuals. Perhaps most importantly, we must address this issue and work with people, with respect, compassion, and aloha remembering that no person or family chooses to be houseless.
In addressing houselessness, we must start by keeping unsheltered people safe and ensure that the law protects one of the most vulnerable segments of our community. We must make sure health and human services are available to assist in the process from houselessness to successful sheltered life. In addition, we must ensure that those most in need of shelter can successfully secure such shelter.
Hawaiʻi is currently facing an unprecedented housing crisis as a result of Covid with many families at risk of being evicted. We must take immediate measures to freeze rent increases, evictions, utility shutoffs, and late fees for rent to prevent families from becoming houseless and compounding the negative affects of Covid to individuals, families, and communities. We must act to shelter the houseless and protect those at risk of becoming houseless.
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