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Homelessness and Affordable Housing continues to be a priority focus of the diocese. Hawaii suffers a serious homelessness challenge. On any one day an average of 16,000 persons are homeless or without shelter in this island paradise. An additional 358,669 residents are considered at-risk or hidden homeless, sharing homes with others or at risk of losing their homes. The Diocese of Honolulu has made a serious commitment to ministry with homeless people.
Initially, the Homeless ministry team educates the parish on the extent of homelessness in our area and plans how to reach out and help those in need. Some parishes make bags filled with toiletries and food items as well as a list of resources in the community to give to the homeless people in the community. Other initiatives include blanket and sock drives, visits to and volunteering at homeless shelters, and working with community agencies to see how best to assist them in their work with the homeless people in their area. Homeless ministry outreach in Hawaii's Catholic parishes involves many services depending on the needs of the community. Services include thrift stores, financial assistance to those in need, food pantries and meal distribution programs.
Homelessness is directly connected to many causes including the lack of affordable housing. Hawaii experiences a severe shortage of affordable housing amongst all its islands; our housing deficit is estimated to be over 30,000 units. The housing deficit has been devastating to low and middle-income families in our state. Hawaii has the least affordable housing market in the country.
The Office of Affordable Housing (OAH) was established within the Office for Social Ministry to address the issues of homelessness in the State of Hawaii by helping to increase the stock of affordable housing in our islands. OAH is assisted by the Coordinating Task Force on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, a cadre of appointed volunteers who assist the Church to pursue its goals relating to affordable housing and homelessness. OSM has several brochures that outline the ways people can partner and participate with the Homelessness and Affordable Housing Plan and Volunteer Opportunties for Following in the Footsteps of Saints Father Damien and Mother Marianne.