Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi reports that 127 people who were considered homeless at the time of their deaths died on Oahu in 2019.

According to a press release from the city Thursday, that’s up from the year before (120 deaths) and up 46% from 2017 (87 deaths).

“This is just another reminder that leaving those without homes on our streets, sidewalks, and in our parks is not humane,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a statement. “That is why the city pursues compassionate disruption and encourages people to seek shelter and permanent supportive housing. The bottom line is we need to continue to show compassion to those that need it most.”

Surfer walks towards beach near Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park as city crews start sweep/cleanup.

A surfer walks near a homeless camp at Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park at Diamond Head in September.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The average age of death for the Oahu homeless last year was 54.4 years old, “well below” the national average of 78.6 years old.

The causes of death varied, “but some patterns did advance, for example, substance abuse and violence,” according to the city.

The press release explained that the 120 deaths in 2018 is revised from a previously reported 90 deaths, and the 87 deaths in 2017 is revised from a previously reported 70 deaths.

These numbers may not reflect deaths that occur in hospitals or other health care facilities, the press release added.

On a more hopeful note, Caldwell said that the city recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Punawai Rest Stop in Kalihi.

He also called attention to the new HONU program — Homeless Outreach and Navigation to Unsheltered Persons.

A critical time for local journalism . . .

Over 1,800 daily and weekly newspapers in the U.S. have ceased operations since 2004 — among them the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Weekly. Studies have shown that when local journalism disappears, government financing costs go up, fewer people run for public office, elected officials become less responsive to their constituents, and voter turnout decreases.

 

Our small nonprofit newsroom works hard every day to present local news in a deep and transparent way, without fear or favor.

 

We also rely on donations from readers like you to keep us afloat. The more support we receive; the stronger, more sustainable our journalism becomes; the more accountable we are to you. Please consider supporting our small newsroom with a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author