As the City and County of Honolulu struggles to address homelessness in the urban core, the Hawaii Community Development Authority voted Tuesday to extend and expand its support of a $345,000 job training program for homeless people in Kakaako.

The program, which has been operating since 2009, involves collaborating with the Waikiki Health Center to employ a dozen homeless people to help maintain and clean up Kakaako parks.

Vladimir the homeless man

A homeless man named Vladmir pushes his cart of belongings through downtown Honolulu.

Anita Hofschneider/Civil Beat

This year, eight of the 12 program participants completed the program and found permanent jobs. Tuesday’s vote by the authority will allow the program to add four more positions.

During Tuesday’s meeting, HCDA board member Brian Tamamoto questioned why the agency was funding a program that diverges from its mission of revitalizing Kakaako. He said the program needs better performance benchmarks to justify the amount of money spent.

Despite that, the board voted to continue the funding. “It is in this way of giving a hand up, instead of a hand out, that the HCDA believes it can be a part of the solution in ending homelessness in Hawaii,” the agency said in a press release.

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