July 17, 2020
Prior to the current pandemic, many households were one unexpected life event away from eviction and homelessness. COVID-19 is the life event that took us all by surprise. Families that live paycheck to paycheck (about half of Hawaii’s households) are more vulnerable than ever. While we have worked to prevent many families from becoming homeless through short-term rental assistance (we’ve already experienced a 400% increase in requests for help), many will inevitably lose their housing once the State’s moratorium on evictions is lifted. Some projections anticipate a 30-40% increase in homelessness in the coming months and year.
We are quickly scaling our services to meet the upcoming need. Compared to this time last year, we have helped 110% more families in the first half of 2020. We've accomplished this by increasing our Prevention and Diversion services, offering new housing resources through our Rapid Re-Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing programs, and creating new shelter options through partnerships with Camp Mokuleia and a Waikiki hotel.
But, more is needed. Unfortunately, the wait list for our services grows daily. As it stands, Oahu’s homeless service system does not have the capacity to meet the current need, yet the demand continues to rise. We are looking at new ways to increase the community's safety net for newly homeless families through safe, family shelter options and rapid re-housing resources. We are also continuing to invest in prevention and diversion programming to help keep families in housing. As a community, we will get through this challenging time together.
Conversations About Racial Injustice
In light of the events happening in our country and as a leader in family homeless services, we must examine the inequity that exists in housing. Black Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are more likely to experience homelessness than the general population. According to the 2020 Point In Time Count (an annual street and shelter count that determines the number of people experiencing homelessness on Oahu on a single night) Black or African American people were over represented by 67% and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders were over represented by 210%.
We recognize that we have a responsibility to talk about the current movement, to educate, and to empower our community to take action. Our mission of ending homelessness for families and children requires us to speak out against systemic racism. Our vision of an Oahu where vulnerable families have equitable access to housing cannot be achieved without being an anti-racist agency. We are making the long-term commitment of advancing diversity and inclusion, fighting for equity, and advocating for social justice.
In our efforts to do so, we will be launching a new learning series in the coming month to talk about racial injustice. The series will be informative, and possibly uncomfortable – growth often is. We may not get everything right in our conversations, but are committed to working past our discomfort and fears, knowing that having the conversation is most important. Our goal for the series is to raise awareness about injustice to create meaningful action. The series will be recorded and can be used as a tool to spark ongoing conversations.
During each episode, a FPH staff member will sit down with a leader in the community to discuss the history of injustice in different cultures, explore meaningful ways to build trust within said communities, identify resources to learn more, and create actionable steps that can be taken.
The videos will be utilized for ongoing staff and volunteer training, while also being a tool to spark meaningful dialogue concerning racial injustice. We will share clips from each episode on our social media pages along with a question to discuss with your friends and family. The series will be released in phases on our YouTube channel. We had the honor of sitting down with Mr. Alphonso Braggs, President of the NAACP chapter of Hawaii, for our first episode. While the entire video will premier later this month, please enjoy a preview from episode one: Conversations About Racial Injustice In The Black Community. As you watch the video, consider what immediate action you could take to fight racial injustice in your community.
From your ʻOhana to ours
A virtual fundraiser
SAVE THE DATE! Join us live at 6pm on August 30th for a virtual fundraiser. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, nearly one in three families in Hawaii are facing housing instability and homelessness. Now more than ever, we must come together as a community to ensure all families have access to food, shelter, and emergency care.
You can help ensure every child has a home - without leaving your own. From your ʻOhana to ours, help us raise critical funding for vulnerable families. The event includes live entertainment, a delicious family meal from Tucker and Bevvy, and a Lucky Draw contest that includes a relaxing staycation. Due to the current pandemic, we will no longer be holding our annual Fun Run or Holiday Gift Party. Instead, let's socially distance together.
Be on the lookout for more information about the event coming soon!
Meet the Team
An Interview with Marissa, Manager of Community Engagement
The FPH team (staff, volunteers, and board members) is diverse. We value this diversity as one of the strongest factors in our collective success. Drawing upon our range of cultural backgrounds, skills, educational levels, beliefs, and experiences fosters empathy, creativity, and community. In our upcoming newsletters we will be featuring a variety of team members at FPH so you can get to know them a little better.
This month, we get to know Marissa.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Aloha, I hail from Oklahoma, "home of the red dirt." I'm passionate about doing work that allows people to live life more fully and feel fortunate to do the work that I do at FPH.
What brought you to Family Promise?
I was looking to get involved in the community and knew that my ultimate goal was to work in a non-profit here. I sought out to volunteer with organizations that were truly doing impactful work. So, I came into FPH as a volunteer, was delighted at the work that was being done and was fortunate to apply for my current position when the opportunity arose shortly thereafter.
Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?
I can speak and read Mandarin Chinese on a basic level. I also can play the violin, not well, but I can play none-the-less.
What’s something you’re proud of?
I'm proud of how far I've come and what lies ahead.
What’s something you find challenging about your work at Family Promise?
Fortunately, in the work that I do at FPH, I get to be of service to our clients without
providing direct services in the ways that our Case Managers do. However, there are
times when I'm called to fill in gaps. I find it difficult to listen to too many gut-wrenching
accounts of the hardship that the families are facing, because although we absolutely
maximize the ways that we assist people, we don't have the capacity to help everyone.
When you are not working, what's your favorite way to relax?
My favorite ways to relax are to look out at the ocean, have dynamic conversations and
laugh (especially out loud, with ugly snorts).