Kailua woman’s struggle highlights rising elderly homeless population


*** KHON2 News has received a number of inquiries from viewers that want to help Ms. Kosak. Please send your notes to Brigette.Namata@khon2.com and she’ll pass them on. ***

An elderly former teacher living in Kailua is desperate for a home.

Karin Kosak, 76, has to find a new place to live because her landlord is selling the house.

But a limited income is narrowing Kosak’s options, and time is running out. She’s in danger of being out on the streets.

It’s not what you want to think about on Easter Sunday.

Kosak has been renting a room in a Kailua home for 5 years.

On March 14, Kosak was given 45 days notice to find a new place to live.

KHON was told the landlord needs to sell the house for financial reasons.

The search hasn’t been easy for Kosak.

“I can’t think of what to do besides what I’ve already done,” said Kosak.

Kosak, a former masters-educated teacher, makes $847 a month off social security. Her pension ran out.

Kosak, who has no family on the island, can’t find rooms to rent under her price range, and says she doesn’t make enough money to qualify for senior assisted living.

She says she’s made dozens of phone calls to various agencies for help.

“And I’m on waiting lists,” said Kosak. “But it’s 5 to 8 years.”

Sadly, Kosak’s story is a reality many seniors face in Hawaii.

The Institute for Human Services, Hawaii’s homeless shelter, says they’ve had a rise in older individuals seeking shelter.

“The cost of living is just too high for people,” said Kimo Carvalho. “It’s not always about mental health issues and substance issues. Sometimes, it’s just a hard struggle living.”

Kosak can seek shelter with IHS, but the problem is, beds are scarce. And right now, there are only top bunks available in the single women’s dorm, which Kosak physically cannot handle.

But IHS believes that’s not the biggest problem.

“We’re in a community development problem resulting in homelessness and part of that is availability of affordable housing units,” Carvalho.

Meanwhile, Kosak has until April 28 to find a home. She hopes she doesn’t end up on the streets.

“They’re not just bums out there under trees in parks,” said Kosak. “And defecation and urinating inappropriately. There are people like me. Educated, well informed, read the paper, watch the news.”

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