Working homeless need a hand
Lahaina, Kahului tailor programs to help.
by Sue Schumann Warner –
It isn’t cheap living in Maui: this July, a gallon of regular gas sold for $4.63—the second highest price in the nation. Surcharges are added to everyday items due to the high cost of fuel to import goods: at a Safeway in Lahaina, for example, two gallons of milk recently cost $10; a half-gallon of orange juice can run $7.19.
Renting a room in a home can set you back $800 a month; one bedroom apartment goes for over $1,200 a month…and with the median price of a home $620,000, it’s difficult to afford.
And the minimum wage? It’s $7.25—hardly enough to make ends meet. With tourism down 22 percent in June (reflecting the rise in airline fares and grounding of ATA and Aloha airlines, along with the loss of two Norwegian Cruise Line ships visiting the island) hourly jobs have been affected as well.
It’s not at all unusual to be homeless—and working—in this island paradise.
Services to homeless
According to Maui County Coordinator A/Captain Mark Merritt, there are approximately 2,000 homeless on the island, which has a total population of around 141,300.
The Salvation Army touches the lives of most.
At the Kahului Corps, Army offers three programs specifically for the homeless, in addition to offering a full range of traditional corps programs aimed at youth and adults of all ages. Last year, social services spent $30,000 in helping 1,000 families—who already had housing—with food, gas, utilities, and rent.
1. The William Booth Drop-In Center (Safe Haven)
The Safe Haven provides clients the opportunity to shower, have breakfast, a hot lunch, store personal items in lockers, receive and send mail, telephone services, hygiene supplies, clothing, and case management; last year, 43,000 hot meals were served.
Clients are connected with their basic, immediate needs and partnered with outside agencies to gain assistance with solutions to their homelessness—including substance abuse treatment, obtaining IDs and insurance, mental health, work, housing, educational assistance, and family services. “It’s a safe place to rest during the morning and early afternoon hours,” says Patrick Folye, director of the Army’s homeless programs.
Open four days a week from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., it’s closed Wednesday and weekends.
2. The Outreach Program
The outreach team visits client camps throughout the island, delivering balanced diet food bags, hygiene kits, clothing, sleeping bags and tents (when available) and case management. The program is designed to search for and provide assistance to homeless individuals and families living on beaches and cane fields, and serves over 100 men and women each week.
3. B.E.D.S. Program (Booth Emergency Drop-In Shelter)
Open seven nights a week, from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., the B.E.D.S. program is a men’s 18-bed dormitory facility for emergency night shelter that provides a warm, clean, and safe environment. It has been instrumental in assisting clients into more permanent employment and housing.
In Lahaina, the Hale Palekana drop-in center offers the same service and outreach programs as Kahului.
The Salvation Army also is a referral system for partner agencies including:
• The State of Hawaii Department of Social Services
• Veteran Affairs, the medical drop-in clinic and business office
• Mental health agencies
• Emergency shelters in Wailuku and Lahaina
• Outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment centers
• Birth certificate and state I.D. replacement