HONOLULU (KHON2) — A program aimed at addressing homelessness on Oahu is looking to expand. The Crisis, Outreach, Response and Engagement (CORE) program just launched a few months ago, and people in the community said have noticed a difference.

The CORE team is under the City’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) department, the focus of the team is to respond to the medical, mental and social needs of houseless individuals.

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KHON met with EMS Director Dr. James Ireland and members of the CORE team back in November 2021. Since then, a CORE office opened on Pauahi Street, the office gets many non-emergency 911 calls dispatched to them.

Ireland said, “We decided with CORE to start in Chinatown, there was a lot of homeless here there still are homeless here, but we’re right in Chinatown, right in the heart of Chinatown.”

The team currently consists of 17 workers, these include EMT and community health workers. There are plans to expand beyond Chinatown, downtown and Waikiki later this year.

The CORE Operation Manager Raye Rin said, “we anticipate our team growing two to three times by July 1. That will provide us the opportunity to provide service to the entire island.”

The team’s goal remains to make personal connections with homeless individuals. The Chinatown, Business and Community Association President Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock said the constant interaction with folks who are houseless was needed.

“It’s a program that is accountable and transparent, so I think it’s good for the community, and I think they are serious,” said Shubert-Kwockk. “And so they have staffed and we will begin to see results, I’ve already seen some, watch them work.”

Lin’s Lei Shop owner Tony Nguyen said he welcomes city intervention that could help people get back on their feet.

Nguyen said, “Any kind of presence with the CORE team walking around I think it’s good for the homeless, it’s worth a shot.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi during his State of the City address said they are looking to expand shelter capacity near existing city sites offering resources.

Blangiardi said, “In addition to existing city properties, we are taking steps to expand our stabilization housing inventory near existing treatment resources and we will do this by partnering with our non-profits.”

Ireland said the success of the program will be measured by keeping track of the people the team interacts with and by connecting them with resources to house them. He said success is also noticing fewer people on the streets.

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Ireland said, “For the city and county we know no part of Oahu doesn’t have a homeless population or encampments and so we’re going to go where we are needed.”