The 2022 Point-in-Time count of homeless people in Hawaii, which had been slated for Jan. 27, was delayed to March 10 in response to an uptick of Covid-19 cases within the last few weeks.

Last year, the unsheltered count was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, although organizations did a limited survey of people in shelters. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development didn’t indicate that it would nix the canvassing this year, according to Laura Thielen, executive director of Partners in Care, an organization that coordinates with local homeless services.

“We think it’s the most ethical and appropriate response,” Thielen said.

State of Hawaii survey volunteers gather together at the Old Stadium Park in Honolulu in order to collect information about the homeless population in Honolulu on Monday, January 23, 2017. (Civil Beat photo Ronen Zilberman)
The annual Point-in-Time count would normally have volunteers in Hawaii count people experiencing homelessness. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

Before the pandemic, outreach workers and volunteers would go out for one day to count homeless people living on the streets and in shelters. The count is normally carried out at the end of January, and service providers have a couple of months to submit their report to HUD by April.

Thielen said the report to HUD is still planned for April 30.

The count is “vital for establishing federal funding from HUD as well as state, local and private funding to help end homelessness,” according to Partners in Care’s website.

There’s no current data to indicate if homelessness increased in Hawaii, but last year a survey recorded 1,185 people were in emergency shelters, 640 in transitional housing and 28 in a safe haven.

“We hope that by March, our number will decrease enough for us to be confident in conducting the count,” Thielen said, adding that volunteers would be needed to help with the one-day count.

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