February 8, 2023 · 12:00 PM HST | By Big Island Now

Mayor Mitch Roth and the team during a ceremony to accept a federal grant to fight homelessness. From left to right: Carrie Hoʻopiʻi , Homeless Outreach Team Leader, Hope Services; Llyz Whitney, Hawaiʻi Island Home for Recovery, Data Specialist and Case Manager; Carlos Palma – Operation Director, HIHR (HIHR); Mayor Mitch Roth; Ryan Okahara – Honolulu Field Office Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Brandee Menino, Chief Executive Officer for Hope Services; Susan Kunz – Housing Administrator, County of Hawaiʻi; Sarah Figueroa – Director of Planning and Evaluation, Hope Services. This total includes an appropriation for Maui County. (Photo credit: Hawai‘i County)

Two nonprofit organizations from Hawai’i County have been awarded a combined $2.8 million in federal grants by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address unsheltered and rural homelessness.

The first-of-its-kind competitive funding was awarded to Hope Services Hawaii and Hawaii Island Home for Recovery. Monies will provide for housing and supportive services in rural areas. The funding is designated to strengthen homeless outreach, increase the supply of permanent housing, and expand supportive services.

Marcia L. Fudge, secretary of the federal agency, said homelessness is a solvable crisis.

“Housing with supportive services solves homelessness,” Fudge said. That’s why for the first time the federal government is deploying targeted resources to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in unsheltered settings or in rural areas.”

With these grants and vouchers, Fudge said the federal government is filling the gap and giving communities the resources and tools to improve housing and health outcomes for people on the streets, in encampments, under bridges, and in rural areas.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth said the county supports the efforts of the two organizations to address the homeless issue.

“Guiding unsheltered homeless individuals off our streets in a dignified way and providing supportive services is key to keeping them permanently housed,” Roth said.