The homeless situation in Waikiki has lately been getting negative international attention, but a benefit concert Saturday night hopes to alleviate it.
The Institute for Human Services launched the “Waikiki Homeless Outreach Initiative” six months ago, and says it has already moved more than 100 homeless people off Waikiki streets.
The shelter is now adding another goal — raising a million dollars to fund IHS’ homeless initiative program for two years.
Kimo Carvalho, IHS’ development and community relations manager, said they have been contacted by overseas media, wanting to know more about the chronic homeless population.
“We’ve heard complaints anywhere from Japanese tourists being harassed by panhandlers, to Canadians upset with the ‘scenic view’ of the homeless laying, urinating, defecating in front of them,” he said.
Carvalho said IHS is taking its services to the streets, thinking outside the box to adapt to a changing homeless population.
One of the ideas was a benefit concert. “Hawai’i for Hawai’i,” being held on the Great Lawn of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, has gathered attention from other countries eager to know Hawaii’s plans for getting the homeless off Waikiki’s streets.
IHS wants to take the roughly 600 homeless in Waikiki off the streets by 2016, essentially clearing the neighborhood. It’s hired a full-time homeless outreach team that’s out on the streets every day, and also has a homeless outreach shuttle, a new service center, and has partnered with hotel security guards for referrals of homeless in Waikiki.
Carvalho said he hopes there will be more events like “Hawai’i for Hawai’i” to help other areas of the state dealing with a large homeless population.
“We hope this concert becomes a model for non-profits to think creatively to help end homelessness in Hawaii. This concert isn’t ‘Hawai’i for Waikiki.’ This is ‘Hawai’i for Hawai’i.'”
Saturday’s event is a partnership between the Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Kapono Inc., and Market Advantage.