Homeless Are Eligible For CARES Act Funds, Too - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Rob Kinslow

Rob Kinslow believes in the power of P — people producing positive power. His mantra is, “We are much more than we think we are.” Kinslow helps leaders of all ages navigate through the shoals of disruption to sustainability’s safe harbor. He is the secretary of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, a keynote speaker, Hogan mentor and climate change communicator.


A month ago I was reading a Forbes article and came across the statement, “Homeless and those who are not required to file a tax return are eligible for CARES act stimulus.”

I stood up in surprise because I understood the implications for homeless families and people around my town. If each of the estimated 4,400 homeless were to receive the $1,200, at minimum, that would be $5.28 million worth of support directly into the pockets of people on the street.

I did some research and discovered the process for registering was not complicated. The only firm requirements are name, date of birth and Social Security number.

I began asking the homeless folks in my neighborhoods, “Have you received your stimulus check?” Most had not.

I asked Cecilia Fordham, president of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, “How can I have more impact?” She referred me to Connie Mitchell of IHS who referred me to Scott Morishige, the governor’s coordinator on homelessness.

A family staying at the Barber's Point Shelter that has fallen on hard times, during the COVID19 pandemic, resort to asking for handouts from strangers to help meet their needs on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)

A family staying at the Barber’s Point Shelter that has fallen on hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic resorted to asking for handouts from strangers to help meet their needs this summer. Under the federal CARES Act, many homeless people in Hawaii are eligible for financial assistance.

Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

After some emails, Morishige kindly phoned and encouraged me to conduct a remote training. He sent an introductory email to his service providers alerting them to my offer.

Several providers were trained to register clients with the IRS. He then invited me to present to the statewide weekly Zoom call, thereby reaching more than 100 homeless service providers.

‘Behavior Reveals’

I often say, “How we treat the Earth, is how we treat each other.” Homelessness and poverty go hand-in-glove with our hoarding winner-takes-all ownership politics. Enormous benefits of our technological age, built by the grace and efforts of our ancestors, have not been distributed according to the vision of our creator.

The entire set of activities of the human, the built environment, all things not made by nature, our houses, buildings, roads, airplanes, and all of the processes required to create those privileges were created by humans.

So, why is it so difficult to solve homelessness, if we created the problem?

Answer: because power, personality and ownership politics do not benefit when poverty and homelessness end. Behavior reveals, words conceal.

Despite these headwinds, under Gov. David Ige the state of Hawaii has made great strides both responding to and proactively addressing the symptoms of homelessness. Our current lieutenant governor, Dr. Josh Green, has the empathy and experience to address the root causes.

Yet, there is a yawning gap between who we are and who we came here to become, between our behaviors and our words.

Back to my story. Still feeling urgency at time slipping away and the enormous benefits being left on the table, I reached out to Dr. John Webster, the former director of the Hogan Entrepreneurial program at Chaminade. Webster helped me connect with Rev. David J. Gierlach and Wallyhouse manager Barbara Bennett, who every day safely provide food and assistance to our houseless humans.

This last week I have been at St. Elizabeth helping homeless people register to get their stimulus checks. It only takes about 15-minutes per person. Afterwards, women, boys, and men with tears in their eyes expressed how grateful they were for some relief from financial worries.

Now, to some readers, $1,200 might not be a lot of money. Or, the hassle-to-help someone might be too stressful. If that is you, it’s past time to help.

Yet, I feel so much satisfaction helping just one human experience a bit of stability. And, to whom much is given, much more is expected.

When we help another person, like the story of the boy throwing starfishes washed up on the beach back into the ocean, we can be confident we are making a positive impact in that one person’s life.

I feel so much satisfaction helping just one human experience a bit of stability.

Access to resources helps us all develop dignity, self-confidence and purpose in our lives, why would it be any different for homeless humans? Even though we may not be able to help every homeless person, by helping one feel dignity and enjoy the benefits of stability, we receive a blessing.

If you have time in the coming days, weeks and months, why not help your local youth, family or homeless person? See them, be friendly, kind and with compassion ask, “Have you received your $1,200 stimulus check?”

UDATE: Please share the deadline has been extended to Nov. 21. The previous deadline was Oct. 15.

The process requires a Social Security number. Here is an IRS link. Encourage people to engage with their service provider. It only takes a couple of minutes to register. Finally, should you want to connect or donate to a local support program, here is a list of homeless outreach agencies statewide.

The late James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.”

By helping someone — anyone — you can change a life. Let’s face the future together and change the structural barriers to human dignity.

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About the Author

Rob Kinslow

Rob Kinslow believes in the power of P — people producing positive power. His mantra is, “We are much more than we think we are.” Kinslow helps leaders of all ages navigate through the shoals of disruption to sustainability’s safe harbor. He is the secretary of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, a keynote speaker, Hogan mentor and climate change communicator.


Latest Comments (0)

Assuming homeless peeps apply for this. - How do they get their money ? How do they access the money ? Is it a physical check that is sent to them ? Or a prepaid visa card or something ?If a physical check, where is it mailed to ?  Can not get a P.O. Box if you are homeless.  Then, how do they cash the check ?  How many homeless have a bank account where they can cash a check or direct deposit ?  Can not open a bank account if you are homeless. If a check and no bank account, do they use a check cashing service ?  Lots of questions on logistics

Curtis_Kropar · 1 month ago

All the Mayors of all the islands should be posting this front and center on their Facebook page/posts, County website pages, and on flyers in front of government buildings. This is almost as important to our community as social distancing and wearing masks are. This will in flux thousands upon thousands of dollars into the economy in one way or another. I don't think the homeless folks are ordering things from Amazon are they? Even if they purchase their adult medicine from stores and or sources, much of it will stay within the community.

Scotty_Poppins · 1 month ago

On October 5, the IRS announced "that the deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) is now November 21, 2020" -- in other words, the October 15 deadline has been extended by 5 weeks. Since we're not allowed to post links (?!), I suggest that folks go to the IRS website and look for its news releases and/or google "IRS extends Economic Impact Payment deadline to Nov. 21 to help non-filers" for more details.

nicwoo123 · 1 month ago

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