City officials raise concerns as individuals travel to Hawaii for homeless shelters


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Crisis, Outreach, Response and Engagement or CORE Program aims to address homelessness on Oahu. The program has helped over 100 individuals in a four-month span, but crews are starting to notice an alarming trend.

“I’ve been out with CORE enough now to see people who are mentally ill or have substance abuse problems getting one-way tickets here,” said Dr. James Ireland, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

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CORE’s most recent case was a crisis call from the Neal Blaisdell Park in Pearl City.

“The guy got off the plane couple days earlier and called for our services, because he needed help so we facilitated and got him into IHS,” said Ian Santee, deputy director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

“They’re literally coming here with $2 in their pocket and they land and some of them already know to ask for IHS. They’ve been prepped.”

Dr. James Ireland, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

Emergency Services officials brought the issue at the City Council public safety meeting Wednesday. The department is seeking $4.2 million in ARPA funding to help cover what it says is a growing need worsened by those coming to Hawaii with a plan to live in local shelters.

“It’s not sustainable. We can only create so much shelter space and so much affordable housing that we don’t have enough anyways,” said Ireland.

The Pearl City Neighborhood Board Chair said they’re noticing more houseless individuals around the community.

“Especially in the Lihua area right now, we’ve got reports from Hale Mohalu Senior Center that there’s been a number of vandalized vehicles with glass from their doors being broken,” said Larry Veray. “They still got issues with being approached by a lot of medically ill individuals.”

Out of the 115 people CORE has helped since January, 50% have been houseless for six months. While 45% have been houseless for up to 15 years.

Officials said they have no problem caring for anyone in the community, but would like to focus its resources on those who call Hawaii home.

“If people are coming here cause it’s easy street and they can just get a free ride from some other jurisdiction, I don’t think any other jurisdiction in the county could handle that onslaught,” Ireland said.

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The Emergency Services Department said it’ll discuss possible solutions with the City Council.



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