UnitedHealthcare partners with Catholic Charities to address homelessness in Hawaii
Sponsored by UnitedHealthcare
Housing security and homelessness have been major issues in Hawaii for years, but with the impact of COVID-19, more families than ever are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The connection between housing and health is undeniable, in Hawaii and across the country, which is why UnitedHealthcare has partnered with Catholic Charities to help address homelessness in Hawaii.
Affordable housing has been one of the state’s top priorities, and Catholic Charities Hawaii’s development arm has built affordable senior rental housing complexes in Mililani and on Maui the past five years. In fact, more senior housing units are scheduled to open soon at the Kahului Lani senior complex on Maui and the organization is looking to open another senior apartment building on Maui in the future.
Catholic Charities Hawaii understands that many who have lost their jobs are one step away from homelessness, as they cannot afford to pay their rent. The organization was asked to be part of two state emergency assistance programs that provided nearly $70 million in financial relief to tenants who were laid off or had their work hours reduced. The goal of the programs was to keep people in their homes and safely sheltered, while ensuring landlords were properly compensated by assisting with the rental payments.
“At Catholic Charities, we have several programs that address homelessness and housing security, from our COVID-19 Rent Relief and Housing Assistance program, to special programs that are created for homeless veterans and seniors,” says CEO & President Rob Van Tassell at Catholic Charities Hawaii. “Our programs provide transitional housing, housing placement, counseling, financial and material assistance, case management, employment training, budgeting and tenant education.”
Studies have found that among people experiencing homelessness, 73 percent have at least one unmet health care need. Getting homeless families off the streets and into permanent housing provides them a healthy, safe and stable environment. In particular are homeless children who need a safe and permanent place to reside so they can go to school on a consistent basis.
“One positive example of this is the state’s Family Assessment Center that we operate in Kakaako,” Van Tassell adds. “The facility provides homeless families with young children a safe and temporary haven until our social workers can transition them into long-term housing.”
Anyone who needs help or would like to volunteer can contact Catholic Charities Hawaii online at catholiccharitieshawaii.org. If you need immediate assistance, you can call its help lines, 521-HELP (Oahu), 935-HOPE (Hawaii Island), 873-HOPE (Maui), or 241-HOPE (Kauai).
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