May 27, 2020
“Is the water from the faucet safe to drink?” This question was asked of our Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager Ernie, by Lois, the matriarch of a family of four. The family had just moved into housing after living outside for over 7 years. While many believe that families who experience chronic homelessness suffer from drug addiction, chronic mental health issues, or domestic violence, this family became homeless due to limited economic resources. Lois is unable to work because of health concerns and her adult son stopped working to ensure the safety of his family while living on the streets. It brings us joy to report that the family has now been placed in a charming home where they no longer question their physical safety. They can now enjoy the simple luxury of knowing that yes, the water that comes from the faucet is safe to drink. Ernie continues to work alongside the family to help them seek employment and access additional resources the family needs.
Finding affordable, quality housing in Hawaii is a challenge in itself, but the on-going pandemic makes it even more difficult. Never-the-less, the show must go on! Since March, eleven families experiencing chronic homelessness have moved into stable housing through the Permanent Supportive Housing program. You can learn more about the program here.
Adapting to Meet Needs
To preserve the safety and health of our guests, volunteers, staff, and community we will continue to suspend the operation of our emergency shelter rotational model through the end of 2020. While many of our congregation partners begin to create plans for how to reopen their facilities and practice social distancing, we are aware that the Family Promise model would be difficult to implement at this time. We know our rotational shelter model will continue in the future, but we don’t want to reopen it until it is safe to do so.
During the suspension of our rotational shelter model, we will be partnering with Camp Mokuleia to shelter families at their facility for the remainder of 2020. This will allow us to continue to serve vulnerable families while safely practicing social distancing. Funding for this project will come from the Emergency Solutions Grant program which was awarded supplemental funding from the CARES Act. We will also continue to shelter families in a hotel in Waikiki through June thanks to funding from Hawaii Community Foundation's Hawaii Resilience Fund. Click here to view a Hawaii News Now article about the hotel project.
You Can Be a Part of the Hui
5 Foundation partners + 114 individual donors =
110 children and parents (and counting) prevented from falling into homelessness
Prior to COVID-19 half of Hawaii’s households were living paycheck to paycheck – one unexpected life event away from losing their housing. That unexpected life event is upon us. The current pandemic has resulted in an overwhelming need. Family Promise of Hawaii (FPH) has experienced a 400% spike in requests for help with rental assistance.
Unfortunately, Hawaii is likely to experience increased evictions and homelessness in the coming months. Homeless service providers and shelters are already at capacity. While the term homelessness is often associated with single adults, nearly 40% of the state’s homeless population are children and families. These families have fallen into crisis because the cost of living is higher than the wages they earn. With 1/3 of Hawaii residents unemployed because of COVID-19, many families are unable to pay their rent. Children and families without safe and secure homes are at increased risk of serious health issues.
We must come together and do everything we can to keep families housed.
“You can prevent families from experiencing homelessness by supporting them now with short-term rental assistance” says Family Promise of Hawai’i Executive Director Sam Church. “Keeping families housed is more cost effective than shelter and is less traumatic for children.”
FPH began collecting funds for their COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Fund in March. Since then they have raised over $125,000 from individuals and private foundations. Current contributors include community donors, The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Healy Foundation, American Savings Bank, and the Women’s Fund of Hawaii.
“During this challenging time, we recognized the need to provide rental assistance for families who have lost employment” says The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation Executive Director Tertia Freas. “We hope others will join us in helping to support our neighbors in need.”
The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Fund is rapidly being deployed to households in need on Oahu and will quickly run out of funds. FPH is hopeful the community will continue to support the initiative so they can assist families in the days, weeks, and months ahead. To support the fund, you can give online or can mail a check to the FPH office.
Households interested in support from the Fund should call the FPH office at 466-4243 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested participants must be able to demonstrate a financial need as well as loss or reduction in employment due to COVID-19.