Volunteers on Oahu counted 3,941 people experiencing homelessness in March for the island’s Point In Time count, the homeless service coordinator Partners In Care announced on Thursday.

That’s an 11% decrease in the total population compared to the last PIT count in 2020, according to the nonprofit’s report, and a 24% decrease in the sheltered homeless population.

“The data suggests that there has been a steady decrease in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness during the PIT Count,” the report states. “While the unsheltered population has remained relatively level, the shelter population has decreased significantly. COVID-19 may have been a factor in this due to social distancing and shelter depopulation.”

TheBus customer sits at the bus stop on Kalakaua Avenue near South King Street with a nearby homeless encampment.
Honolulu has among the highest rates of homelessness in the nation.  Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The populations of veterans and families experiencing homelessness continued a years-long decline, according to the data. The vast majority of survey takers, 86%, were adults.

People who identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander are still overrepresented in the homeless population as compared to the general population of Oahu, the report states. That demographic makes up 35% of the PIT survey takers but only 10% of Oahu’s population, the report states.

Of the 156 Native Hawaiian adults surveyed, 44% indicated they were eligible for Hawaiian Homelands, and 15%, or 55 of them, indicated they were on the Hawaiian Homelands waiting list.

The report breaks down the surveyed homeless population by several other demographics:

  • 22% have a mental illness
  • 22% have a disability
  • 21% were “repeaters,” people who had been counted in previous PIT counts
  • 18% have a substance use problem
  • 11% were survivors of domestic violence
  • 8% of adults were 60 years or older
  • 7% were veterans
  • 5% identified as a sexual or gender minority

Financial and employment-related issues were the top self-reported causes of homelessness among survey takers, the report states. Some of those individuals were affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to the report, including 418 people who reported a loss of income and/or housing due to Covid-19.

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