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City reaches agreement with River of Life Mission
HONOLULU -- The City and County of Honolulu and the River of Life Mission (ROLM) have reached an agreement to relocate its public feeding operation from its current location in Chinatown to several new hubs on Oāahu.
"This is a significant agreement that will benefit Chinatown and everyone else involved," said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. "We will be working with ROLM as they identify new remote feeding locations to serve additional areas. This will help to make more meaningful connections with our homeless population, and it will help to better assess their needs and connect them with the appropriate service providers. My sincere mahalo to ROLM and its Board President Rann Watumull for working with us on this key strategic initiative. We have been most grateful River of Life has been providing food assistance for our POST program and the City Services Fair. We look forward to additional opportunities to work with ROLM to meet the many needs of our communities."
"The River of Life will be moving its free public feeding operation from its current location in Chinatown to remote HUB locations across Oāahu," said Board President Rann Watumull, River of Life Mission. "This will allow us to reach more people, more effectively by relocating this service out into the community at multiple locations instead of just one location. We are so grateful for the Mayor and the quality team he has assembled including Managing Director Michael Formby and Community Services Director Anton Krucky, who are working hard to address the homeless crisis on Oāahu. We are honored to continue with the City on many levels to serve our most vulnerable population."
"On behalf of many Chinatown businesses and residents, I'd like to extend my heartfelt mahalo to the Mayor and Managing Director for their leadership in obtaining an agreement with River of Life to relocate its free meal services to locations outside Chinatown," said Honolulu City Councilmember Carol Fukunaga. "My legislative colleagues and I will also pursue more city and state funding for housing, medical, substance abuse and mental health treatment services for chronic homeless in urban Honolulu neighborhoods."
The City intends to find an operator of the newly completed Resource Center in Iwilei, which includes a large commercial kitchen and dining facility of more than 100 seats to prepare and serve meals to chronically homeless, those at risk of homelessness and persons of low income needing assistance to meet daily nutritional needs. The Resource Center has great synergy with providers of supportive services as it is across the street from the Institute for Human Services Men's Shelter and next door to the City's PÅ«nÄwai Hygiene Center that provides a daily opportunity to homeless persons to shower and do laundry.
Relocating the ROLM public feeding operation is just one of the many developments aimed at revitalizing the Chinatown area. The City's Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement (CORE) program is already making a big impact on Oāahu, particularly in Chinatown, and is off to a terrific start engaging with 5-8 clients a day. The CORE ambulance transports 2-4 people to medical facilities each day. CORE employees are also connecting dozens of people with community health workers and social services to help get them the care they need to find alternatives to living on the street.
The City is also committed to expanding truly affordable housing in Chinatown. In 2021, the City worked with property managers to rent 755 affordable housing units in five projects throughout Chinatown and approximately 50 individuals were transitioned out of homelessness in the area either through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD VASH) program or through Housing First vouchers.
In an effort to promote safety and security in the area and to restore confidence to Chinatown's residents and business owners, the Weed and Seed initiative led to 56 misdemeanor and 116 felony charges. From July to November of 2021, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) and Chinatown COVID-19 Prevention Task Force (CCPTF) reported a 58% decrease in the number of miscellaneous crimes reported, a 39% increase in warrant arrests, and a 115% increase in the number of Drug/Narcotic cases the HPD has investigated.
To support the ongoing community planning efforts to improve Chinatown, Mayor Rick Blangiardi and members of his administration will hold a virtual town hall meeting later this month. Meeting details will be announced soon.
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