A third of Hawaii’s homeless and evictions are kupuna

Nov. 21 – A new analysis of US Census Bureau data by AARP has estimated that Hawaii has 5,116 homeless adults — about a third of whom are kupuna 55 years of age or older.

A new analysis of US Census Bureau data by AARP has estimated that Hawaii has 5,116 homeless adults — about a third of whom are kupuna 55 years of age or older.

Additionally, evictions in 2022 across the islands are estimated at 3,906, with about a third of them being Kupuna.

“These are just staggering numbers,” AARP Hawaii State Director Keali ‘i Lopez said Sunday. “Many older people gave their lives to Hawaii or served their country, and it is unconscionable to see them in their later years in a situation where they are living on the streets.”

To combat the problem, the AARP is calling for zoning reforms, more funding for affordable housing, and an increase in housing supply.

“Affordable housing was already our top priority,” Lopez said. “Now this only adds to the effort we need to put into this issue.”

The Statista/AARP census data analysis also estimates homelessness and evictions by county and race. Honolulu is expected to have 2,970 evictions of adults ages 18 and older this year, followed by the island of Hawaii with 429, Maui with 355 and Kauai with 145.

Oahu also has the most homeless adults, at 3,932, according to AARP estimates. Hawaii County has 536 while Maui has 463 and Kauai has 175 homeless adults.

In other words, for every 10,000 people on Oahu, there are 49 homeless people. Of the neighboring islands, Maui County has 34 homeless people per 10,000 people, followed by Hawaii County at 33 and Kauai at 30.

Samar Jha, AARP’s director of government affairs, was in Hawaii this week to present the analysis at a conference on affordable housing.

In an interview, Jha said the Hawaii numbers are average to above average for states across the country.

“For older adults, homelessness and evictions are a problem across the country,” he said. “Many of them are victims of the housing shortage.”

The AARP analysis, which covers a nine-year period beginning in 2019 and projects evictions and homelessness into 2027, found a sharp increase in evictions and homelessness towards the end of the pandemic, peaking this year.

The problem of homelessness and evictions is expected to gradually decrease by 2026, the AARP said.

Jha said that was in large part due to federal COVID-19 funding but the drop will likely only be “a few hundred”.

“There needs to be an ongoing program to support homeowners and renters,” he said.

Lopez said that among other things, local governments need to make greater efforts to facilitate the conversion of individual single-family home lots into multi-family communities.

Another contributing factor to the problem, she said, is the NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude, which has helped quash planned construction of senior and low-income housing.

Affordable housing was a popular topic in the Hawaiian election campaign this year.

“We hope to be able to keep these politicians’ promises,” Lopez said.

Other AARP Findings: Evictions and homelessness disproportionately affect adults ages 44 and younger and 65 and older than adults ages 45–64. – Asians (1,676), followed by Caucasians (1,339) and people of mixed race (905), make up the majority of homeless people in Hawaii.

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