A nonprofit that provides services to mentally ill homeless people says it will be able to continue to operate its daytime activity center in downtown Honolulu despite missing out on a $175,000 federal grant administered by the city.

Bill Hanrahan, program director at Mental Health Kokua, sent a letter to the city Department of Community Services earlier this week contending that the city wrongly rejected the organization’s application to fund its daytime activity center for homeless people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Hanrahan said in an interview Tuesday that the city misinterpreted the federal guidelines governing the Emergency Solutions Grant, and that the grant would have supported 75 percent of the activity center’s work. He said the denial of funding may force the nonprofit to close those operations.

But Greg Payton, the organization’s executive director, said Friday the ESG grant had been sought to help the nonprofit expand its services, and that he’s optimistic the organization will be able to secure other funding. He noted the nonprofit is currently receiving a city grant known as a Grant in Aid through the summer, and is re-applying for it.

“It’s always nice when you have a substantial grant like ESG but if not, we will manage to pull together other funding to make the services happen,” Payton said. “It’s just the nature of the business.”

Payton sent an email to state and city officials and nonprofit advocates Friday apologizing for Hanrahan’s letter criticizing the city and stating that it was unauthorized, although it was written on the nonprofit’s  letterhead.

Payton said in an interview that Mental Health Kokua has a “significant working relationship with the city” and the nonprofit is hoping to move into a city property downtown by October.

Man sleeping on sidewalk by trash can along Kalakaua Ave. In Waikiki.
Mental Health Kokua helps the homeless who have mental health issues. PF Bentley/Civil Beat

A good reason not to give

We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share. 

But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.



About the Author