Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Family center offers aid to the homeless

O'ahu's homeless issue is finding shelter with many caring members of the community, in grass-roots initiatives that deserve support.

The most recent of these was celebrated Saturday with the opening of a family center in Kailua that gives the homeless a haven during the day and a ride to a shelter at night.

Locally, it's the product of donations from a consortium of private foundations, businesses and individuals and benefits from the experience of a national network.

That network is called Family Promise, and it's encouraging that its expansion to Hawai'i already has generated participation from an army of church-based volunteers. A coalition of 13 churches provides overnight shelter and meals to the families, with a dozen more churches offering support service.

The Kainalu Drive family center, which is staffed with a director and social worker, can serve 14 individuals; the local network leaders hope to open a second center in Honolulu later this year.

The centers give families a safe place to shower and rest during the day, as well as a phone number assigned to each family to use as a point of contact for prospective employers or landlords. It's a sensible solution for people who need that bit of stability to get their lives back on track.

C. Kent Coarsey heads Family Promise of Hawai'i and is a member of First United Methodist Church, whose ministry also spawned another outreach program called H-5.

Clearly, churches are rushing in to fill a void that government hasn't successfully remedied. Prospects do look somewhat brighter this year, however: Advocates for the homeless have found more money being set aside for shelters from a Legislature flush with surplus funds.

These appropriations must make it through.

More importantly, elected leaders should partner with enterprises such as Family Promise. Such partnerships could leverage public dollars to quickly provide more homeless families with what they need: a safe haven.