Officials from the City and County of Honolulu issued a press release Wednesday stating that 373 people who were considered homeless at the time of their deaths died on Oahu from 2014 through 2018.

The analysis comes from Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Happy.

The average age of death was 52.6 years, “well below the current life expectancy in the U.S. of 78.6 years old and more than 80 years old here in Hawaii.”

Homeless Encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park with tents.

A homeless encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park, May 2019.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“The truly compassionate thing to do for our homeless population is to get them into shelter and off our streets where statistics show they are more likely to die at a relatively early age,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The statistics gathered by the medical examiner is a sobering wake-up call, and even for the shelter-resistant population, we need to get them into supportive housing as soon as possible and not allow them to die needlessly. This is what my program of ‘Compassionate Disruption’ is all about.”

The causes of death varied, but they included disease and poor hygiene, violence, the abuse of narcotic drugs and drowning.

Incident locations varied too and included sidewalks, Aala Park, school ball fields, Queen’s Medical Center, bus stops and parking lots.

“The statistics are startling and show us that our streets and other public areas are not fit for human habitation,” said Office of Housing Executive Director Marc Alexander.

Before you go . . .

During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to dig beyond the news, to figure out what government policies mean for ordinary citizens and how those policies were put together.

For the first time, Civil Beat has become a seven-days-per-week news operation, publishing new stories and a new edition each Saturday and Sunday as well as weekdays.

This is perhaps the biggest, most consequential story our reporters will ever cover. And at no other time in Civil Beat’s history have we relied on your support more. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author