Hawaii homeless shelter already near capacity a few weeks after opening

Housing officials in Hawaii say that the newest homeless shelter on the Big Island is already nearing capacity just a few weeks after opening.

On Friday, Hawaii News Now reported that the Keolahou is 88 percent full following the first phase of renovations opened up 25 beds less than a month earlier.

Housing officials say they expect capacity to double to 50 beds next month, while construction is already being planned on the structure’s second floor to house an additional 20 apartments.

The housing authority notes that the $2.5 million shelter is designed for men who don’t have many places to go on Hilo.

Housing officials noted that homeless men were on waiting lists for the two existing shelters because they are always full.

They added that the former hospital provides men with medical attention, employment opportunities, counseling, legal guidance, food, and laundry facilities.

A December 2018 to Congress noted that 46 people out of every 10,000 living in Hawaii are homeless, which is tied with New York for the highest per capita rate in the country.

The problem has been getting worse for years.

In January 2016, CBS News reported that homelessness in the Aloha State had reached “crisis” levels.

“People want to come to paradise and they get here with a job but they find it’s really hard to live here,” Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell said. “Buying a home is super expensive, renting a place is very, very expensive.”

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