Have you ever wanted to give spare change to a homeless person, but were worried that the money would end up in a liquor store or in the hands of a local drug dealer?

Honolulu Councilman Ron Menor knows the feeling. That’s why he is proposing a new website where the homeless can post personalized donation requests for food, shelter or clothing.

Anyone seeing the plea can then send money to a local homeless support group that will make sure that the funds are used properly.

Think of it as a Kickstarter for the homeless. No liquor stores or drug dealers. “This is really going to facilitate donations to the homeless,” Menor said.

Menor laid out the basics of his plan in a resolution that will ask Honolulu’s Information Technology Department to develop the new website.

Donors can specify who they want to donate money to. If they don’t have anyone particular in mind, they can also search by geographic location for a person to give to.

Multiple donors can support the same person or a homeless family. And if someone asks for $100, perhaps for school supplies, supporters will have the option of giving $5 or $10 until the total is reached.

It will be the responsibility of organizations that assist the homeless to verify and validate any donation requests that are posted on the site.

If the council approves the measure, the site could launch by the end of the year, Menor said.

Homelessness has garnered increasing attention in Honolulu over the past year.

Honolulu is home to what may be the most enduring “Occupy” encampment in the U.S., and homelessness is among the grouping’s key issues.

Just last month Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled an ambitious plan aimed at moving some of Oahu’s most visible and troubled homeless residents off the streets and into permanent housing.

Honolulu is home to about 4,350 homeless people, according to a statewide tally. Of those, about 1,300 are considered unsheltered.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has also made ending homelessness and building affordable housing a priority.

Marc Alexander is the Director of Development for the Institute for Human Services, which is Honolulu’s oldest and largest emergency homeless shelter. He said it’s not uncommon for organizations focused on homelessness to share success stories on their websites, along with profiles of the individuals they’ve helped, to show progress and encourage philanthropy.

But Menor’s proposal is unique, Alexander said, and could create new opportunities that don’t yet exist, such as connecting low-income families to landlords who might be willing to overlook poor credit.

“It’s great that someone’s coming up with some ideas and ways of getting people involved,” Alexander said.”I think anything would help, and it sounds at least, like this is a kind of creative (proposal). And it’s amazing how many people are actually looking at the web.”

Follow Civil Beat on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for Civil Beat’s free daily newsletter.

About the Author